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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 22nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

OK, there are disputes among Indian scientists and Indian officials who have connections to Indian oil industry. We knew this all the time and where not happy when under US President G.W. Bush the US pushed out under US business interests push, the scientific head of the IPCC and put in place the proxy Indians. But then, obviously, India is also not homogeneous – so we see internal Indian disputes.
YES – THE GLACIERS ARE MELTING AND NOBODY CAN PREDICT ACCURATELY THE YEAR OF THEIR FUTURE DEMISE – so what? The melting of these glaciers causes floods in the valleys – we know it because we see it. Yes, after they melt there will be draught – that is logic – it is implied in future shortage – that is clear. Those that love oil do not want to let go of it, and those that own refineries do not want to lose their investment – that is clear.
When lots of ice from above earth sites melts it will cause floods on coast line communities – that is clear. The melting of glaciers and the Antarctic ice will cause sea-level rise and floods – that can be sworn by – that is clear. Which island will disappear before 2013 or after – OK – that is not quite clear.
So what all this noise and only the UN can sound retreat – we do not. We also said that the relief of pressure on the tectonic plates because of the melting away of ice can cause earthquakes in areas where the plates meet – like the recent Tsunami belt over the earthquake belt shows. There are no scientific statements on this – only plain logic statements – so what? Yes we stopped short of our statement after the Haiti quakes and said – this one we do not exactly sense how it happened as we do not know of faults in that area. This is our lack of knowledge in this case that calls for help but it does not negate the prior statements. Science is not instantaneous – it requires further thinking and theories and proof if possible – not plain squabbles by industry-backed deniers and knee-jerk reactions by the UN. (our comments to the following news)

——————

SCIENCE, SPHERE, aol, January 21, 2010.

UN Climate Body Eats Crow Over Glacier Warning.

from Theunis Bates, a Contributor.

LONDON (Jan. 20) — It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood disaster movie: Central and Southern Asia are hit by biblical floods when the Himalayan glaciers suddenly melt. After that cataclysm, water no longer flows from the mountains, leaving rivers like the Mekong and Ganges dry and millions facing permanent drought. That was the picture painted by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report, which said there was a “very high” chance that these glaciers would disappear by 2035 if the world kept warming.

But the IPCC, the U.N. body charged with investigating climate change, has retracted that claim after it emerged that its predictions of a sudden melt weren’t based on peer-reviewed evidence, but instead on an article that appeared in the popular science magazine New Scientist in 1999.

Himalayan glacier

Subel Bhandari, AFP / Getty Images
While the Khumbu Glacier near Mount Everest is shrinking, the United Nations admits it overstated the threat of a total glacial meltdown in the Himalayas.

Climate change skeptics have lapped up the scandal, which they’ve already dubbed “Glaciergate,” saying that it further erodes the credibility of climate science already damaged by last year’s Climategate e-mail scandal. Global warming denier Peter Foster, writing in Canada’s National Post, said the error showed how the “IPCC’s task has always been not objectively to examine science but to make the case for man-made climate change by any means available.”

But Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice chairman of the IPCC, said the mistake did not undermine the report’s key conclusions: that the warming climate is accelerating glacial melt and that this will affect the supply of water from the world’s major mountain ranges, “where more than one-sixth of the world population currently lives.”

“I don’t see how one mistake in a 3,000-page report can damage the credibility of the overall report,” van Ypersele told the BBC. “Some people will attempt to use it to damage the credibility of the IPCC; but if we can uncover it and explain it and change it, it should strengthen the IPCC’s credibility, showing that we are ready to learn from our mistakes.”

The argument over the IPCC’s melt date went public last November, when a paper written by Indian geologist Vijay Kumar Raina revealed that there was little consistency in the behavior of the Himalayan glaciers. Some were shrinking, he found, some expanding, and others were stable. If global warming were to blame, he asked, why weren’t they all following the same pattern? “A glacier … does not necessarily respond to the immediate climatic changes,” he wrote. “For if it be so then all glaciers within the same climatic zone should have been advancing or retreating at the same time.”

India’s environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, endorsed the paper and accused the IPCC of being “alarmist” in its predictions. But IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri shot back that Raina’s findings were “voodoo science” and accused Ramesh of repeating the claims of “climate change deniers.”

Embarrassingly, it’s now the IPCC that stands accused of sloppy science, as a rigorous system of fact checks would have kept the controversial assertion out of the 2007 report. The claim first appeared in a 1999 interview between a New Scientist journalist and the Indian glaciologist Syed Hasnain, who speculated that the mountain range’s glaciers could vanish by 2035.

Environmental group the World Wildlife Fund then repeated Hasnain’s prediction in its 2005 report, “An Overview of Glaciers, Glacier Retreat, and Subsequent Impacts in Nepal, India and China.” As this was only was a campaigning paper, it had not undergone a thorough scientific review. But its lack of scientific rigor didn’t stop the IPCC using the WWF document as a source.

In chapter 10 of its 2007 report, the IPCC concluded: “Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world, and if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate. Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 square kilometers by the year 2035 (WWF, 2005).”

But many glaciologists believed those claims were overheated. As most Himalayan glaciers are hundreds of feet thick, only a sudden, huge spike in global temperatures could cause them to disappear before 2035. “The reality, that the glaciers are wasting away, is bad enough,” Graham Cogley, a glaciologist at Canada’s University of Trent, who played a key role in exposing the flawed claim, told the United Kingdom’s Sunday Times. “But they are not wasting away at the rate suggested by this speculative remark and the IPCC report. The problem is that nobody who studied this material bothered chasing the trail back to the original point when the claim first arose.”

Indian glaciologist Murari Lal, the lead author of that section of the IPCC report, last week rejected claims that the U.N. group had made a serious error. “We relied rather heavily on gray [not peer-reviewed] literature, including the WWF report,” Lal told New Scientist. “The error, if any, lies with Dr Hasnain’s assertion and not with the IPCC authors.”

Unsurprisingly, Hasnain has refuted that attempt to pass the blame. “The magic number of 2035 has not [been] mentioned in any research papers written by me, as no peer-reviewed journal will accept speculative figures,” he said to New Scientist. “It is not proper for IPCC to include references from popular magazines or newspapers.”

That’s a tough but obvious lesson, and one the IPCC is unlikely to forget.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From: Franny Armstrong <franny@spannerfilms.net>

Date: Wed, Jan 13, 2010
Subject: [Age-of-Stupid] Waving goodbye to The Age of Stupid + Piers needs you

<< STOP PRESS – Piers the Stupid windfarm man is back in Bedford Town Hall all this week, making one last attempt to get some wind turbines stuck up at Airfield Farm. ie in the very same spot he was fighting to get them up in the film, back in 2005. He’d greatly appreciate any support from anyone who can turn up at the hearings dressed in blue. See his letter at the bottom of this message. >>

Hello and Happy New Decade,

So I thought this was rather symbolic: my friend bet a thousand quid that I couldn’t go one year without uttering the words “climate change”. Now I was feeling pretty confident, come Dec 31st, what with having any number of alternatives up my sleeve: you know, “global warming”, “greenhouse effect”, “anthropogenic warming”. So, anyway, there we were at my granny’s house in Dorset, watching Jools Holland count down to the new decade, and, on the stroke of midnight, in come 12 pipers piping, followed by a man dressed in a polar bear suit. “What do you think that’s all about then?” says friend, at precisely 7 seconds into the new year. To which I reply “Surely it’s got to be climate change”.
And therein lies the problem.
When we finished making The Age of Stupid eighteen months ago (eighteen months ago!), you see, Lizzie and I agreed we would promote it all the way to Copenhagen in December 2009 and then go our separate ways, patting ourselves on the back at a job well done and at a small contribution to keeping the atmosphere habitable to human life. With 18 months being 17 months more active promotion than yer average documentary gets to shake its bootie at. So off we went to Copenhagen – sponsored by many of you fine people, thanks again – and threw ourselves into The Stupid Show, which I will be going on about at great length in the next message, just as soon as we’ve sorted all the videos into some comprehensible order, but which was kind-of brilliant in a madcapedly underresourced way.

What the hell happened at Copenhagen?
I can’t explain better than:
The final message that Lizzie and I filmed at 7pm on the last Sunday, after two long weeks inside the Bella Centre
– The final Stupid Show featuring Tony Juniper, Mark Lynas, Ed Miliband, Kumi Naidoo and President Nasheed from The Maldives in various states of exhaustion after we’d all been awake since Friday and everyone else had gone home.
The Climate Scoreboard, which calculates that the Copenhagen accord (a weaker thing than a deal or an agreement, specially cos we don’t yet know whether anyone is going to sign up) would commit us to a 3.9 degree global temperature rise, which would mean something like: all coral dead, most forests dead, Southern Europe a desert, Australia with no agriculture and Africa uninhabitable. So not great then.
Radiohead’s Thom Yorke with The Stupid Show team shortly after he’d signed up to 10:10


The Age of Stupid, the film, is all over, therefore we can retire?
-> Team Stupid has done a fantastic job over the last few months putting everything in place so that the film will continue to be watched all around the world for years to come. Distribution deals are signed & sealed from Australia to Armenia. The DVDs are flying off the shelves. The Stupid shop has moved to its new home in a big warehouse. Indie Screenings is being handed over to our UK distributors Dogwoof. The downloads are winging their way through cyberspace and the pirates are swopping bittorrents for free on the internet, feeling smug whilst they do it (how come they get the best of all worlds? Couldn’t they at least feel bad as they nick our hard work?). There’s plenty more TV screenings coming up, including Discovery in America in March or April. We’re thinking that the prize for keenest country goes to the Netherlands, where 200,000 viewers watched it on mainstream TV the other week, 120,000 DVDs have been printed (70,000 given away in Belgium and the rest ordered by shops in Holland) and, according to several Dutch friends telling me independently, “Age of Stupid” has become a must-say phrase in the mainstream media, even when not talking about the film.
-> Cash-wise, the first of ten annual payments to our crowd-funders & crew went out last week. Sorry that we just missed Christmas: the problem was that 100+ of the 400 people wrote in to change their details, so that slowed things down considerably. But you should have got your cash now and if you haven’t please contact our accountant Kevin Lyons on theageofstupid@mklp.co.uk. About 40 people said they were delighted and/or surprised with their payment and one said he was totally regretting ever getting involved with the film, so that’s not such a bad ratio. Sorry we haven’t quite yet made you all millionaires.
-> Team Stupid has now disbanded. Many have packed their laptops and headed upstairs to 10:10 (Dan, Leo, Mal), one has gone to film school (Ben), two back to their old dayjobs (Sylvia, Sara), two unaccounted for somewhere in Copenhagen (Tom, Luke), one last seen heading off in a campervan surrounded by Danish police (Rop), one to a great job at the Carbon Trust (Andrew), one to musical adventures (Nick) and one to continue internationally coordinating NGOs (Jahlia).
-> Which therefore means that the winner of the lucky draw to captain the good ship Spanner Films solo from now till eternity is…. Rhiannon Roberts. Round of applause please. Yes, the poor gal will be all alone in Stupid Towers from now on – except we’re getting kicked out of Stupid Towers so will have to find a desk for her to squat somewhere else. So all Stupid or Spanner Films-related enquiries should now go to the hardy lass on rhiannon@ageofstupid.net. She’s only got 400 emails in her inbox at the moment, so sure she’ll get back to you real soon.
-> Having said all that, Andy Moore is also popping in from time to time, finishing up the American DVD, sorting out the Stupid Show, archiving all the used teabags and whathaveyou. He’s on andy@ageofstupid.net
-> Miss Lizzie doesn’t yet know whether she’ll do more filmmaking, more campaigning or more politicking but you can rest assured you haven’t heard the last from her… As for myself, I guess I fall into the next paragraph…

Rhiannon Roberts realises that where once there were nine she now stands alone


The Age of Stupid, the era, is not all over, therefore we cannot retire?

The deal they were supposed to agree in Copenhagen is meant to replace the Kyoto Treaty, which ends at the end of 2012. They didn’t manage in Copenhagen (the UN meeting called COP15), but all is not lost, as there is another shinding happening in Mexico next December, called, you guessed it, COP16. So if the deal can be done then, it can still come in in 2013, as Kyoto finishes, and that would be pretty much the same difference. We just lost a year of preparation time, which isn’t the end of the world.
So what can we, the humble citizens, do to help ensure that the deal gets done in Mexico?
Stupid is dead! Long live 10:10!
As The Guardian’s New Year’s Day 10:10 special edition headlined, “The politicians failed at Copenhagen. Now it’s over to you.”
When the politicians meet again next in Mexico in December, they need to be confronted by the news that the people – and businesses and schools and churches and table tennis clubs – have gone ahead on their own and started cutting emissions. Not in a changing-a-few-lightbulbs way, or in setting more long-distance targets, but in terms of actually knocking a few percent off the total emissions of whole countries in less than a year. Quite a task. To quote myself quoted in the Guardian (much easier than re-writing): “I think Copenhagen marks the end of traditional campaigning on climate change. Enough banners, enough websites, enough shouting in the streets. Now we need to roll up our sleeves and start solving the problem, all together. If we wait until the politicians get their act together, it will be too late.”
There is no way that the politicians would be able to ignore the people plonking, say, 2% cuts from, say, UK, Australia, Germany, Iceland, Norway and the Maldives down on the Mexico table, just as they’re having their first coffee. Or, to put it more positively, the politicians would realise that the citizens are ready to build the low-carbon future and this will give them the political space they need to make the deal as strong as the science demands.
10:10 is absolutely storming ahead in the UK, so the major mission now is to get at least 7 or 8 other countries up to speed, out of the 33 which have contacted us wanting to set up their own version of 10:10 (rather hilariously, the main national broadcaster in the Netherlands launched their very own 10:10 last week. Not sure how we feel about this, but we have anyway now bought in super-star coordinator Susan Alzner – she of the UN climate week triumph (and Stupid Show laugh-o-meter, fact fans) – who will be presenting her world domination plans at the first 10:10 Board Meeting, er, tomorrow and then starting to implement the plan on Friday).
Here’s how you can get involved:
-> If you haven’t yet committed to cut your 10% this year, sign up now at www.1010uk.org. If you’re not in the UK, sign up at www.1010global.org. You’ve already missed the first 13 days of 2010, so have a little bit of catching up to do. Then persuade your kids’ school, your workplace, your girlfriend’s college and your grandfather’s knitting circle to sign up too. You’ll be joining: 53,874 people, 2,041 businesses, 1,051 Schools, Unis and Colleges and 1,424 other organisations. Big name sign-up of last week: Sony. Plus 116 local councils who between them cover a third of the UK population, which means that 20.45 million people will be getting their services (housing, waste, street lighting etc etc) with 10% less emissions than they did this year. Bloody amazing.
-> If you’re not on the 10:10 mailing list (regardless of whether you’ve signed up to cut your emissions), join by sending an email to addtolist@1010uk.org. All the 10:10 news goes out on there, I just send a few titbits occasionally.
-> Join 10:10’s Facebook page and follow us on Twitter (#1010)
-> Give 10:10 some of your cash by donating here or by entering the competition to win a genuine Picasso artwork, as the main thing slowing the campaign down is having to waste loads of effort on fundraising. And how much would you impress your new girl/boyfriend by casually giving them a Picasso for their next birthday?
-> Any questions or thoughts about 10:10, please write to hello@1010uk.org
So that’s where we’re at

I wanted to end this message with the rather delightful news that Channel 4 picked McLibel as the 14th best film of the last decade. But their website seems to have deleted all mention of it… there was honestly a big feature all about the best films and we even made it into the opening paragraph, which has somehow survived the cull: “As this most clunkily-named decade, the Noughties, goes gently into that good night, we’ve seen fit to round-up our pick of the best films from the cinematic era that gave us Steve Coogan Hollywood movie star, saw a postman taking on McDonald’s and winning in McLibel, while a splatstick horror director from New Zealand by the name of Peter Jackson changed the face of cinema with a story about some plucky midgets.”
So that’s it then: we made a film, which was called The Age of Stupid, and then we distributed it as best we could and then we turned our attentions to 10:10 in a bid to help usher in, er, The Age of Sense? The Age of Reason? The Age of Clever?
Hope all’s well with you,
Franny

Last two coats in the COP15 cloakroom at 8pm on the final Sunday… Nobody can say we didn’t try…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Public Inquiry for Airfield Wind Farm, as featured in ‘The Age of Stupid’, 12-> 15th January 2010
-> Please come to Bedford to show your support
Hello Age of Stupid fans,

Piers Guy from the film here.

If consented, Airfield Wind Farm will consist of 3 x 2MW wind turbines, located in Bedfordshire. These three turbines, proposed next to the Santa Pod drag racing strip, will produce around 14,000GWh of clean electricity per year, which is the equivalent to the usage of around 3,000 homes, savings thousands of tonnes of CO2 per year.

In the summer of 2009, Nuon Renewables appealed the planning application on the grounds of non determination. The Public Inquiry has been set for 10am on Tuesday the 12th of January at Bedford Town Hall, St. Paul’s Square, Bedford, MK40 1SJ. The inquiry will last until the 15th of January.

We really want the Planning Inspector to see the strength of support for the wind farm. We know CLOWD, the anti group featured in The Age of Stupid, will be there in large numbers trying to monopolise the proceedings, so it is vital that the we have as many supporters present as possible.

A strong turnout would send a very positive message to the Planning Inspector, we also would like as many people as possible to drop in throughout the week so that the inspector is continuously reminded of the support that exists for this project and also to boost the morale of the wind farm team at the enquiry.

At all times please wear bright blue (hats, scarves, t-shirts, jumpers etc.) if possible to show your support for the wind farm We will also have blue rosettes for people to wear.

Feel free to make banners, and make yourselves heard.


Hope to see you in Bedford!

Cheers,
Piers Guy


Any queries please contact:
Will Watson, Project Manager
Tel: +44 (0)1736 330171

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###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 28th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Thinking of Climate Change, and Copenhagen, I found this week-end Financial Times (November 28-29, 2009) quite amazing:

page 3 of Life & Arts section (- why that section? -) had the “Waving and Drowning” article about the very active President of the Maldives, who won elections last year replacing the longest ruling dictator in Asia, and since shot up to become the leader of the Small Islands Developing States in matters of climate change.

Rahul Jacob, the interviewer for the FT, subtitled the article – “Afternoon tea with the FT: Mohamed Nasheed, president of the Maldives, is determined to draw the world’s attention to the threat his country faces from rising sea levels, even if it means holding cabinet meetings under water.” I knew what he was talking because just last night, on the NOW program on CNN TV, David Broncacio showed a meeting of this underwater cabinet as they were preparing their document for the Copenhagen Conference. The FT describes the Presidential menu in the Male office included Fish rolls, Fishcakes, Tuna sandwiches, doughnuts and Lipton tea. The whole event was clearly courtesy of the melting ice at the two global poles.

The FT page had a small area – bottom left – on four ENGINEERED SOLUTIONS – one worse then the other. The fourth was: RE-ICING THE ARCTIC as a plan to save the world presented by Hazel Sheffield. The suggestion for the re-icing process is to spray salty water over the shores of Greenland.

But that was not all! page 5 of the same section was titled: “WHITE CHRISTMAS” and the point was that that YOU DRINK WHITE WINE IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A WHITE CHRISTMAS. Now I am convinced that we near deep trouble – under water covers, no ice and no red wine!

Will Copenhagen scratch at the problem?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 24th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Climate change complacency `global suicide pact,’ UN told
Obama addresses climate change summit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States was slow to recognize the magnitude of climate change, but that Washington is moving swiftly to catch up. (Sept. 22, 2009)

Sep 22, 2009

Mitch Potter
THE TORONTO STAR WASHINGTON BUREAU
UNITED NATIONS – Complacency on climate change is tantamount to a global “suicide pact,” the President of the Maldives warned today as the largest-ever gathering of world leaders grappled with the issue at UN headquarters in New York.

Delivering an impassioned plea that stood out among a series of marquee speeches from the leaders of China, the United States, France and others, President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives pleaded with his powerful counterparts not to let the crisis slip through their fingers.

“We cannot make Copenhagen a pact of suicide — we have to make a deal,” said Nasheed, who in March emerged as a moral voice on climate change after unveiling plans to make the Maldives the first carbon neutral nation.

Today’s UN summit, unprecedented and involving nearly 100 world leaders, marks one of the final opportunities for nations to trade warm rhetoric for hard commitment in the runup to December’s Copenhagen conference, where the UN hopes a new global framework for emissions reduction will emerge to replace the failed Kyoto Accord.

President Hu Jintao told his counterparts that China is readying a four-part package of commitments aimed cutting emissions by a “notable margin.” Including a plan to plant 40-million hectares of carbon-absorbing forest.

But Hu cautioned that China, like other developing countries, “have limited capability” due to technology gaps. “Developing countries need to strike a balance between economic growth, social development and environmental protection.”

President Barack Obama said the U.S., like other nations, was “slow to response or even recognize the magnitude of the climate threat.

“But this is a new day. This is a new era. And I am proud to say that the United States has done more to promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution in the last eight months than at any time in our history,” Obama said.

Doubts remain about Obama’s abliity to deliver on U.S. commitments, given that any pledges must also be sanctioned by the U.S. Congress, where a energy and climate bill may not be ready in time for Copenhagen.

But the momentum building in New York today is expected to bring new urgency to the issue — and, possibly, fresh leadership, as European delegates in particular turn up the heat.

“If we don’t take action we will face total disaster. There can be no further debate on this,” said French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who outlined the European Union’s willingness to spend as much as $100 billion over the next decade on technology transfers to enable developing countries to reduce emissions while maintaining growing economies.

“In Europe we are demonstrating we can move from growth with high carbon footprint to sustainable growth,” Sarkozy said. “No one will have to choose between unemployment and the environment.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in New York today but did not attend the morning sessions. Harper was scheduled to lunch with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and will join up with 25 world leaders tonight for a private dinner at the UN at the behest of Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Instead, Environment Minister Jim Prentice took Canada’s seat, where he absorbed the full heft of the messages of Obama, Hu, Sarkozy and the other keynote speakers.

“Canada was seated about 10 feet from the speaker’s podium so it came through very clearly,” Prentice told the Star. “I thought the President of the Maldives made a very compelling speech, with a crisp analysis of the challenge we all face.”

Prentice assessed the UN gathering as a “day where the United States and China are under the microscope,” with smaller nations looking for leadership from the two flagship economies.

On the momentum for a meaningful agreement at Copenhagen, Prentice said: “It’s too early to make categorical predictions. We do have 80 days left … we’re in the thick of this and I remain hopeful.”

Speaking to reporters outside City Hall in New York, Harper dismissed suggestions Canada is on the sidelines of the debate, saying his government is working closely with the Obama administration on a “truly continental approach” to climate change.

“Our position is very clear — we want to see an effective international accord, one that includes all the major emitters of greenhouse gases. And of course we’re working very closely with the Obama administration on a truly continental approach,” the Prime Minister said.

“We think that’s going well but we’ll share those views and those perspectives tonight,” during the UN dinner.

—————————–

Sarkozy proposes extra climate summit ahead of Copenhagen.

LEIGH PHILLIPS

23.09.2009 on EUobserver.com

 euobserver.com/9/28705/?rk=1

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed that the leaaders of the major industrialised nations hold an extraordinary summit to discuss climate change ahead of the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in December.

Concerns that negotiations on a global climate deal are close to stalemated, despite fresh proposals for domestic measures aiming to counter global warming from China, prompted the suggestion from the French leader, in New York for a day of climate discussions during a meeting of the UN General Assembly.

5bec15aefdda
Mr Sarkozy wants industrialised nations to come together before Copenhagen (Photo: United Nations)

“Considering how complex this negotiation is, a new summit before Copenhagen is needed,” he told attendees.
“We are on the path to failure if we continue to act as we have,” he said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon warned ahead of the meeting: “The climate negotiations are proceeding at glacial speed. The world’s glaciers are now melting faster than human progress to protect them – and us.”

However, both China and Japan impressed with offers made over the course of the day.

Chinese President Hu Jintao committed his country to a plan that would see an expansion of forest coverage by planting trees of some 240,000 kilometres and produce 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The Chinese leader also said that his country would reduce “by a notable margin” its carbon emissions growth.

However, he did not attach a specific reduction figure to the pledge.

“At stake in the fight against climate change are the common interests of the entire world,” he said. “Out of a sense of responsibility to its own people and people across the world, China fully appreciates the importance and urgency of addressing climate change.”

Developing countries “should not … be asked to take on obligations that go beyond their development stage,” he added.

Incoming Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama also re-iterated a commitment made shortly after his election that the country will cut emissions by 25 percent by 2020, beating the EU’s binding target of 20 percent by the same date.

The EU has however committed to a cut of 30 percent if an ambitious global deal is reached in Copenhagen.

US President Barack Obama’s presentation to delegates was much anticipated but in the end underwhelmed.

“The threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing,” Mr Obama said. “And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out.”

He outlined steps the US is already taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as doubling the generating capacity from renewable energy sources over three years, constructing offshore wind plants and looking to carbon capture and storage to bury the carbon that is produced by industry and the power sector.

But the American plan to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 already announced and derided as strongly inadequate in many quarters is still tied up in the US Congress and may not be passed in advance of the Copenhagen meeting.

Nevertheless, by the end of the UN conference on Tuesday, Mr Ban and Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, host of the Copenhagen summit, impressed by the Chinese offer, had become somewhat more optimistic.

“This feeling of political momentum – that was very strong,” said Mr Rasmussen.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 1st, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The following are the top 28 finalists in the Official 2009 New 7 Wonders of Nature competition – nominated from among hundreds of sites around the world that have been proposed.


see please: www.new7wonders.com/ and you can vote – for up to 7 of the 28 list – at that link.

you can vote for your choice of 7 on line, by phone, or text message. It is expected that one billion people will vote and the winner will be announced in 2011.

A similar effort two years ago elected seven manmade wonders generated considerable publicity. We backed at that time Machu Picchu, Peru

These selections are being organized by a Swiss filmmaker and entrepreneur, Bernard Weber, and the committee that chose the 28 finalists included Federico Mayor, former chief of UNESCO, and Rex Weyler, co-founder of Greenpeace International.

Like everything else that has a UN connection, obviously such selections will be politicized beyond the simple angle of national pride – just see the country called Chinese Taipei for what most call Taiwan.

In this year of climate change we thing the Amazon will get the world’s nod, but watching in Vietnam (it is Halong Bay) how a whole country can get beyond a particular location we would have said that China could muster the vote, but will they do it for Taipei?

From among the many places on the list that we have been to – I am voting as Numero Uno for the Iguazu Falls.

Country

VENEZUELA
SURINAME
PERU
GUYANA
FRENCH GUIANA
ECUADOR
COLOMBIA
BRAZIL
BOLIVIA

VENEZUELA

CANADA

GERMANY

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

IRELAND

PALESTINE
ISRAEL
JORDAN

PUERTO RICO

ECUADOR

UNITED STATES

PAPUA NEW GUINEA
AUSTRALIA

VIET NAM

BRAZIL
ARGENTINA

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 22nd, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Wanted: A New Home for My Country
By NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE
Published Friday, May 8, 2009 – The New York Times Magazine – Sunday, May 10, 2009


One recent evening at the presidential palace in Malé, the capital of the Maldives, around 100 people showed up to watch a movie. Rows of overstuffed chairs in a gaudy combination of stripes and paisleys faced a projection screen hanging on the front wall of what seemed like a grand ballroom. At the back of the hall, journalists erected camera and microphone rigs: Mohamed Nasheed, the Maldives’ 41-year-old president, was expected to make a major announcement after the film. And ever since Nasheed declared on the eve of his inauguration last November that, because of global warming, he would try to find a new homeland for Maldivians somewhere else in the world, on higher ground, local reporters didn’t miss the chance to see their unpredictable (“erratic” and “crazy” were other adjectives I heard used) president.


10maldives-190.jpg
Chiara Goia for The New York Times

Related

Times Topics: Maldives


10maldives1-190.jpg
Chiara Goia for The New York Times

President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives advocates extreme action to save his nation from rising sea levels. Whether his nation could survive the solution is unclear.

Nasheed appeared when a pair of French doors opened and a gust of conversation blew into the room. It was a humid night in March. Several dozen cabinet members, Supreme Court justices, parliamentarians, presidential advisers and other dignitaries trailed the young president, who wore navy slacks and a striped white shirt, open at the neck and sleeves rolled to the elbows. He took a seat in the front row, the lights dimmed and the British feature documentary “The Age of Stupid” began.

The movie opens with hypothetical scenes of environmental catastrophe: the Sydney Opera House in flames; ski lifts creaking above snowless mountainsides; raging seas in the once-frozen Arctic. Set in 2055, the film looks back to our present through a series of environmental-destruction subplots highlighting this era’s collective lack of interest in doing anything; one character concludes that we must be living in the “age of stupid.”

The Maldives is an archipelago of 1,190 islands in the Indian Ocean, with an average elevation of four feet. Even a slight rise in global sea levels, which many scientists predict will occur by the end of this century, could submerge most of the Maldives. Last November, when Nasheed proposed moving all 300,000 Maldivians to safer territory, he named India, Sri Lanka and Australia as possible destinations and described a plan that would use tourism revenues from the present to establish a sovereign wealth fund with which he could buy a new country — or at least part of one — in the future. “We can do nothing to stop climate change on our own, and so we have to buy land elsewhere,” Nasheed said in November.

When the movie ended, Nasheed approached a microphone stand in front of a giant house palm. He has a jockey’s physique, and the fronds of the palm arched over his shoulder. His wonder-boy demeanor might seem naïve, but he spent almost 20 years opposing a dictator and enduring torture; few doubt his fortitude. The audience in the ballroom listened closely when Nasheed declared that it was time to act. “What we need to do is nothing short of decarbonizing the entire global economy,” he said, his high voice cracking. “If man can walk on the moon, we can unite to defeat our common carbon enemy.” Nasheed didn’t use notes for his speech; aides say he never does. “And so today,” he continued, “I announce that the Maldives will become the first carbon-neutral country in the world.”

TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE: www.nytimes.com/2009/05/10/magazine/10MALDIVES-t.html?_r=2

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 6th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Maldives Join the Climate Neutral Network with a Pledge to Become World’s First Carbon Neutral Nation
Nairobi, 4 May 2009 – The Republic of Maldives, one of the countries most affected by climate change, has joined the Climate Neutral Network led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

This follows the announcement by Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed earlier this year to make the Indian Ocean island nation the world’s first carbon neutral country in just 10 years’ time, by 2019.

This ambitious objective will be achieved by fully switching to renewable sources of energy such as solar panels and wind turbines, investments in other new technologies, and sharing of best practices.

President Nasheed declared that “the Maldives will no longer be a net contributor to greenhouse gas emissions”.

“Climate change isn’t a vague and abstract danger but a real threat to our survival. But climate change not only threatens the Maldives, it threatens us all”, he added.

No part of the Maldives’ 1,200 tropical coral islets rises more than six feet (1.8 meters) above sea level, leaving the 400,000 inhabitants at great risk of rising sea levels and storm surges.

As part of coping with the effects of climate change, the Maldives Government focuses on coastal zone protection, land use management and protection of critical infrastructure.

The Maldives has become the seventh country to join the Climate Neutral Network (CN Net), a UNEP initiative launched in February 2008 to promote global transition to low-carbon economies and societies which also includes cities, regions, companies and organizations.

The other six nations that have pledged to move towards climate neutrality and joined the CN Net are Costa Rica, Iceland, Monaco, New Zealand, Niue and Norway.

Welcoming the Republic of Maldives on board the CN Net, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner stated that: “Climate neutrality is not just a developed nations’ concern, nor is it their prerogative. Developing nations such as Maldives can indeed leapfrog by embracing the low-carbon development model, which will assist in greening their economies and weathering both climatic and economic storms.”

“When the most climate change vulnerable nations display leadership in addressing the cause of the problem which they had very little to contribute to, there is no excuse for others not to act. The global community of nations can and must express its commitment to protecting the planet and powering green growth by sealing an ambitious climate deal at this year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen”, he concluded.

For more information, contact:

At the Government of the Republic of Maldives: Ahmed Saleem, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing, Transport and Environment, Tel: 3331695, Fax: 3331694, or e-mail:  saleem at meew.gov.mv, internet: www.environment.gov.mv/

At UNEP:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson and Head of Media, on Tel: +254-20-762-3084, Mobile: +254-733-632755, or when traveling: +41-79-596-5737, or e-mail:  nick.nuttall at unep.org

Or: Xenya Cherny Scanlon, Information Officer, Climate Neutral Network, on Tel: +254- 20-762-4387, Mobile: +254-721-847-563, or e-mail:  xenya.scanlon at unep.org; internet: www.unep.org/climateneutral

***********************************
Jim Sniffen
Programme Officer
UN Environment Programme
New York
tel: +1-212-963-8094/8210
 info at nyo.unep.org
 www.nyo.unep.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 15th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From: Franny Armstrong <franny@spannerfilms.net>
Date: Tue, Apr 14, 2009

At the live event in the solar tent – and therefore down the satellite link to the other 65 cinemas – we had a hot-off-the-press video clip from the president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed: “Today, I can announce to you and the world that the Maldives will be the first carbon neutral country in the world. The cost of this probably will be high, but please understand that failure to act will cost us the world. If the Maldives, a small relatively poor country can achieve a big reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions there can be no excuse from richer nations who claim that going green is too complex, too expensive or too much bother. Now the world has an opportunity to come together and prevent the looming environmental catastrophe. This opportunity as we all know is called Copenhagen. And let’s be very frank about this. Copenhagen can be one of two things. In can be an historic event where the world unites in a collective spirit of cooperation and collaboration. Or Copenhagen can be a suicide pact. The choice is that stark. My message to you, my message to the world, is simply this: please don’t be stupid.”

Cue the only standing ovation of the entire event. Followed by a rather neat summary from Mark Lynas: “This is more than just an amazing announcement. This is potentially a game-changer for the entire negotiations on climate change worldwide.”
The video message is up on the Maldives own website, which is well worth a look in itself. There was also a double-page in the Observer, followed by a brilliantly-titled column written by the President, “Why we are opting out of this pact with the devil”. And at the Bonn negotiations (one of the meetings leading up to Copenhagen) last week some activists presented the Maldives delegation with a giant Not Stupid certificate. See pics attached and Leo’s witty report here. (So the Maldives got the first Not Stupid certificate and Global Warming Swindle director Martin Durkin got the first Stupid certificate on Newsnight the other week. Worked out rather nicely.)
The only downside is that we can’t take the lovely Maldivians up on their open offer for some serious holidaying round their place. Goddamn flying.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 16th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

THE AGE OF STUPID – the March 15, 2009 Premiere held simultaneously in a special solar tent on the grass of Leicester Square, London, and in many movie houses all over the UK. The producers asked people to go to the theaters in their areas and not to fly to London. The facts are that air-transport is the largest CO2  emitter and thus a very serious contributer to global warming. The movie is about global warming as seen backwards from a point in time – 2050 – from an observatory that was built so people later can have a way to see what life was before the global warming  catastrophe struck and ask themselves – did we have to be that stupid? Did we really not see what we were doing to the planet and thus to ourselves? But we did know! So we were that Stupid! Unbelievably Stupid!!

The point is that this movie should turn its viewers into activists – so we do change our ways because we do understand that we cannot have an uncontrolled growth and live as if we hadten planets to our disposal when we indeed have only one. There is still time to change our ways and the target time that Franny Armstrong (writer and Director) Lizzie G (excuse me, I do not have the full name in front of me)(sound), and Pete Poslethwaite (main performer and activist) see –  is December 6, 2009 – the start of the Copenhagen meeting on climate change which they love to note as CO2penhagen. Pete Poslethwaite feels so strong about all this that he threatened on camera that he will return his OBE if the UK Government insists on going ahead with the  controversial Kingsnorth coal-fired power station in Kent – his original area.

The movie team has already spun off a “vote with your feet to stop climate chaosmovement” www.stopclimatechaos.org that is working on a December 5, 2009 “March in December” –  London – mass rally – with “Protect the Poorest” Quit Dirty Coal” “Act Fair & Fast” banners.

I came to London from New York, in a stop-over while timing myself to do so as part of a larger trip to Tel Aviv. This gave me the excuse to fly-in even though I understood the request that creating CO2 while being against it – is indeed a misrepresentation of policy.

I saw the action while at a VUE movie house in Acton, London, where all activity from the  solar tent in  Leicester Square was being  beamed in.

I write this from my hotel, after having returned there by way of the “tube” – the famed London Subway. In the tube I had the chance to rview what we saw with 5 young Britishers. My method was “rapid fire” – I wanted to know why Minister Miliband had on a purple tie. I understood he stands for dirty technologies. He seems to love nuclear power without going into actual details if it saves, and how much, of CO2 emissions, and what do you do with  radioactive byproducts? OK – that is  interests policy – but why in the UK a purple tie? He seems also to love coal – albeight  – he thinks in terms of clean coal or the hiding away somehow of the CO2. Franny Armstrong was not too kind to him and what she called his”cohorts” – read the UK government. Pete Posllethwaite said that “we told Tony Blair” not to go to Iraq – but he did” seemingly we tell now the government to do something about climate change but they do not. But why the purple tie? One of the Britisher ladies said it is the fashion now but perhaps Miliband wants to say he is independent. Aha! now we got a clue. It was the Red Republicans of Bush / Cheney that led Tony Blair into Iraq, but now it is the Blue Democrats that lead Obama to undo what the others did and do something where the others did nothing. So is  Britisher Miliband signaling that British  Labor is now only half-way in cahoots, because the cohorts still wink to the rear – that is to the American Republicans – and insist on not lining up with progressive forces that intend to march on CO2penhagen?

I asked my British co-travelers; what about Cameron? He is a  “Greenwash” they said. Aha, so Miliband is purple  – the color that desribes one as in-between the Republicans and the Democrats in the US, while, he – a Britisher of Labor – has really only Greenwash on his right and on his  left. So the purple is that he really wants to say something but has little to line up with on the Islands – so he looks outside but does not want to look Eastwards to Europe – so he looks  westwards to the US.

This position is somehow strangely clear to us at www.SustainabiliTank.info  where we believe that led by the Bush lack of interest in Climate Change, and the Arab Oil States strong opposition to the subject, the UN undid the Poznan 2008 meeting with the purpose of turning Copenhagen 2009 into Poznan II rather then what some thought will be a Kyoto II formula, but many of us thought more realistically into a potential new Copenhagen I solution. Even so, I completely agreee with Franny and Pete that “THE AGE OF STUPID” must turn our heads around so we undoo that evolution and force the issue so that we will become the GENERATION THAT WAS NOT STUPID. That future does not belong to the  PURPLE but  to the GREEN. Purple in fashion is a  catastrophe of global proportions – Green should be our color – by law and by good business practices. The US needs a Stiglitz in Treasury and not a Goldman-Sachs Man. The UK needs something similar and the Germans and French may indeed help illuminate the way by saying that blind  stimuli are poison to the interests of turning away from being stupid. What is rather needed are regulations that smooth the way to being not stupid – and the timing of “The Age of STUPID” happens to be so that it is right before the UK meeting of the G-20 under Gordon Brown’s leadership. Did not President Obama just say so to Gordon Brown – that there is a special US-UK relationship? OK – will now Mr. Brown steer things so that he brings to a realignment of policy between the Merkel-Sarkozy line approach to capitalism and the old  coservative way of doing business as seen by the UK-US camp?

The movie was great. The points well presented – the melting glaciers, the destried beaches, the burning cities, the spoils of oil that are not money for the needy – but destruction and poverty – that is all there and more. The Indian entrepreneur who wants to turn a billion people into air travelers is just a good student of Harvard a Wharton – but he is also the “angel of death” not just for India but for all of us. Ah, Yes, I took pictures and a book of notes – these will be used in the future – now I just want to say – GO SEE THE MOVIE WHENEVER IT TURNS UP IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD. Don’t travel to see it – but make your leaders see to it that it is shown to your people.

The Maldive Islands announced – for The Age of Stupid Premiere – that they will be the first UN State to be Carbon Neutral – they understand because they are allready going under water – right now!

Best regards to Franny, Lizzie, and Pete, from Pincas Jawetz at www.SustainabiliTank.info

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 13th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Carbon News and Info, Tuesday, 11 November 2008.
The new President of the Maldives says he will begin buying land in other nations as “an insurance policy” in case his nation needs to be evacuated due to rising sea levels from climate change.

The Maldives is a group of 1200 tropical islands in the Indian Ocean, 80 per cent of which are less than one metre above sea level. Much of the most inhabited parts of the country are just 1.5 metres above the water.

The first democratically elected leader, Mohamed Nasheed, and his Vice-President, Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, wasted little time in declaring their plans to British newspapers saying a national fund would be established with royalties from the country’s tourist industry to fund land purchases.

Nasheed told the Guardian that Sri Lanka and India were obvious targets given their proximity, and the cultural similarities of their people to the 300,000 Maldivians. He also named Australia as a possible destination.

Manik said the “worst-case scenario due to sea level rise would be that some or even all of our islands would become uninhabitable and we would have to look for alternative places for Maldivians to live” in an interview with the Financial Times.

“We can do nothing to stop climate change on our own and so we have to buy land elsewhere. It’s an insurance policy for the worst possible outcome,” Nasheed told the Guardian, comparing the concept to Israelis buying land in Palestine.

There is much contention among scientists over how much sea levels can be expected to rise this century. The IPCC landmark 2007 report published conservative estimates of a rise of 25 to 58cm by 2100, criticised as too low by some researchers.

In 2005, authorities announced plans to move the 1000-strong population of the Carteret Atolls, in Papua New Guinea, to Bougainville in what were said to be the first climate change evacuations. Their current homes are predicted to become completely submerged by 2015.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 16th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

WIP on our website means WORK (WRITING) IN PROGRESS – or simply unfinished article. When finished the WIP will be taken off but the article will stay in place without the UPDATED designation. Nevertheless, theses introductory lines will remain as a reminder that the article had a long birth.

***

The meeting, August 15, 2008 was chaired by the Ambassador For Palau. Present were also the Ambassadors from Nauru and from Fiji. Many other Missions were represented – some of these missions have representatives on the working committee. Involved are also some of the active NGOs.

At present the sponsors of a resolution to be brought before the UN General Assembly are 11 from among the 14 Pacific Small Island Developing States – Fiji, Marshall Islands, The Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu; the Maldives and Seychelles from non-Pacific SIDS; Canada, the Philippines from among larger States. But these 15 States will pick up many more co-sponsors. Mentioned were Turkey, the EU, Austria and Iceland that have expressed their eagerness to join. There is no opposition we were told – but only some hesitation because it is seen as a new approach to the problem of the humanitarian impact of climate change that goes on already – this while in major UN institutions the debate has not led yet to action. The inhabitants of the small islands of the Pacific are the first to lose their habitat – and what we see is the eradication of UN Member States by this predictable catastrophe.

On our website we announced this encounter between the proponents of the resolution and the NGOs:

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 15th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)We also pointed out the topically relevant event at the Lincoln Center’s “Mostly Mozart Festival” when Lemi Ponifasio’s REQUIEM had its two evenings before a New York audience.The history of this special effort by the Pacific SIDS started on February 15, 2008, in a speech by Ambassador Stuart Beck of Palau, before the UN General Assembly:www.palauun.org/news_archive.cfm?news_id=189Palau Calls for Security Council Action to Protect Island Nations From Sea-Level Rise.

NEW YORK, NY,  www.islandsfirst.org February 15, 2008 — Addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations at the High Level Debate on Climate Change, H.E. Stuart Beck, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Palau, citing the “life or death” nature of sea-level rise for the world’s island nations, urged the Security Council to utilize its powers under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to address this threat to member states by imposing mandatory greenhouse gas emission standards on all member states, and utilizing the power to sanction, if necessary, to encourage compliance with such standards.

He said:
“The waters continue to rise in Palau, and everywhere else…Though this litany of disasters has become well known in these halls, no action with remedial consequences has been taken…We take this opportunity to respectfully call upon the Security Council to react to the threat which we describe. Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?”

States reacted swiftly to the statement. This week, Ambassadors are meeting in New York to draft a General Assembly Resolution requesting Security Council intervention to prevent an aggravation of the climate change situation caused by greenhouse gas emissions by states. Pacific Island states will be in the forefront of the effort, since they are both the most vulnerable states, and amongst the least responsible for the problem.

Last year, the Security Council debated the security implications of climate change. Its then President, Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett of the United Kingdom, affirmed that climate change is a threat to “our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world”. Chapter VII of the UN Charter conveys to the Security Council the necessary tools to address the problem, as it has done so in recent years in connection with terrorism and HIV/AIDS. No other international body has the power to mandate change in an effort to save the threatened island cultures of the world.

The full text of Ambassador Beck’s remarks at the UN Climate Change debate is as follows:

“Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, friends:

The waters continue to rise in Palau, and everywhere else. Salinization of fresh water and formerly productive lands continues apace. The reefs, the foundation of our food chain, experience periodic bleaching and death. Throughout the Pacific, sea level rise has not only generated plans for the relocation of populations, but such relocations are actually in progress. Though this litany of disasters has become well known in these halls, no action with remedial consequences has been taken. Larger countries can build dikes, and move to higher ground. This is not feasible for the small island states who must simply stand by and watch their cultures vanish.

Is the United Nations simply powerless to act in the face of this threat to the very existence of many of its member states? We suggest that it is not.

Last April, under the Presidency of the United Kingdom, the Security Council took up the issue of climate change. At that time, while there were some expressions of discomfort with the venue of the debate, a discomfort which we decidedly did not share, there was general agreement with the notion expressed by the President of the Security Council, UK Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett that climate change is a threat to “our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world”.

Islands are not the only countries whose existence is threatened. Ambassador Kaire Mbuende of Namibia characterized climate change as a ” a matter of life or death” for his country, observing that ” the developing countries in particular, have been subjected to what could be described as low-intensity biological or chemical warfare. Greenhouse gases are slowly destroying plants, animals and human beings.”

Speaking on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum at last years Security Council debate Ambassador Robert Aisi, of Papua New Guinea observed that climate change is no less a threat to small island states than the dangers of guns and bombs to larger countries. Pacific Island countries are likely to face massive dislocations of people, similar to flows sparked by conflict, and such circumstances will generate as much resentment, hatred and alienation as any refugee crisis.

Ambassador Aisi observed then, and we reiterate now, that it is the Security Council which is charged with protecting human rights and the integrity and security of States. The Security Council is empowered to make decisions on behalf of all States to take action on threats to international peace and security. While we applaud the efforts of the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary General to shine a light on this awful problem, we take this opportunity to respectfully call upon the Security Council to react to the threat which we describe. Would any nation facing an invading army not do the same?

Under Article 39 of the Charter, the Security Council “shall determine the existence of any threat to peace…and shall make recommendations…to maintain or restore international peace or security”. We call upon the Security Council to do this in the context of climate change.

Under Articles 40 and 41 of the Charter, it is the obligation of the Security Council to “prevent an aggravation of the situation” and to devise appropriate measures to be carried out by all States to do this. While we Small Island states do not have all the answers, we are not unmindful of the scientific certainty that excessive greenhouse gas emissions by states are the cause of this threat to international security and the existence of our countries. We therefore suggest that the Security Council should consider the imposition of mandatory emission caps on all states and use its power to sanction in order to encourage compliance.

We further propose that under Article 11 of the Charter, the General Assembly is empowered to call to the attention of the Security Council “situations which are likely to endanger international peace and security” and, at the appropriate time, we will call upon this body to do so. In the event that the General Assembly chooses not to avail itself of this right, then we will call upon the countries whose very existence is threatened to utilize Article 34 of the Charter, which empowers each Member State to bring to the attention of the Security Council any issue which “might lead to international friction”.
I think we can all agree that international friction is a mild term to describe the terrible plight in which the island nations now find themselves.

Our Charter provides a way forward. Our Security Council has the wisdom and the tools to address this situation. And while we debate, the waters are rising.

Thank you.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 30th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

ambfriday001.gif

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 29th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Benazir Bhutto (Bibi) – Self Appointed Martyr – Does She Bring Change To A South Asia That Was Carved By The British? Obviously We Do Not Know, But Analyzing Three Days Worth Of Publicity We Dare To Put Forward The Big Elephant Theorem. “Bibi” said about her return to Pakistan – “I did not chose this life – it chose me.”

The Big elephant is the Indian Subcontinent. See – we do not start by writing about Pakistan, not even about present day India – but by what, in geography books is called the Indian Subcontinent which is the triangular shaped chunk of land-mass that is cut of from the rest of Asia by the Himalaya chain of mountains. Today, in this land mass, going from west to east, we find five to eight UN member States. These are the obvious five – Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. In addition the islands of Sri Lanka and The Maldives are part of this geography. Further, my 1981 Hammond atlas has pages for “Indian Subcontinent and Afghanistan” this because it includes with this region – Afghanistan which borders right to the west of the “Subcontinent” – thus leaving the region outright bordering with Iran, Russia, China and Burma (now Myanmar), formidable neighbors which are clearly outside this subcontinent.

When one looks carefully at that map, one sees that Baluchistan became Pakistan, but was actually made up of Baluchistan proper, Sind, Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province. It had 7 major languages and 5 major religions. India had 31 Internal Divisions, 16 major languages and 8 major religions. Bangladesh was made up only of one unit, had only two major languages, Bengali and English, and only three main religions – Islam, Hinduism and Christianity – nevertheless, as having been incorporated with Baluchistan into the original Pakistan, it also inherited problems that came from its creation. Obviously, at creation, because all areas had people of all religions – a total of 25 million people became refugees – half of them Muslim and half of them Hindi. The refugees were not accepted easily by their brethren and the major parts of the Subcomtinent remained hurting for generations to come.The other Independent States of the Subcontinent are much smaller, but as we shall see have had their own problems galore. Taking all of the above into account – and without trying to offend anyone – I will continue from now to use for sakes of generalization and brevity the term INDIA for the Subcontinent as a whole. INDIA was not a total model of peace, but it was a rather peaceful region with the diffeent peoples coexisting and intermingled.

I mentioned the above in order to say that the Indian Subcontinent, or INDIA, with many more people then Europe, was as complex, if not more then Europe – and here – to this immense world march in the British and somehow manage to take it over by using the old Roman technique of DIVIDE AND RULE. the Dutch and the Portuguese came before the British, but were in owe and tried just to trade. All right, to the purist, they also established fix trading posts, but realized that the morsel is too big and complicated for them to swallow. To get a taste of the feeling of a European coming to India I will quote from today’s (December 30, 2007) New York Times travel section:

“I go to India by myself most years because I love the country. I like the history and the culture. From the photograph that goes with the NYT article you get an idea of what an extraordinary structure this is ( he talks about the 13th century, black granite, Sun Temple at Konarak, The Eastern State of Orissa, India, not far from the Bangladesh border) with big wheels representing the chariot of the sun god, Surya. What’s really fascinating about India – and you really get this when you’re by yourself – is noticing the small things. The detail in India is extraordinary, in the way people dress, the way people store their things and mend things, and the paradoxes: nothing is quite as it seems. So, intellectually, mentally, it’s this constantly fascinating display of languages and architecture and objects and craft. It’s all around you. Your senses are constantly bombarded with little details, which is fantastic.”

I know what he is talking about because I was there. I was many times to India, three times to Pakistan, once in Nepal and once in Bhutan. Further, I cooperated with Pona Wignaraja, the Sri Lankan who was the 2nd Secretary-General of the Rome, Italy, based Society for International Development and we organized with UNEP’s Dr. Noel Brown, and with Indian Dr. Rashmi Mayur, NGO leader from Bombay (now Mumbai), the meetings on Biomass and Outer Space at the First UN Conference on Outer Space that was held in Vienna, Austria, sometime around 1981, and learned what a Sri Lankan can do when looking at the world. Those years I also went to Pakistan with Turkish-American Professor Nejat Veziroglu, on behalf of a University of Miami mission backed by the US National Science Foundation, in order to help open a Solar Energy National Institute for Pakistan in Sind. We met many people involved in the Pakistan Energy leadership – the main officials were all called Khan – and we met also in Islamabad the top Khan who became later famous for his trading in nuclear technology and products. I was involved later, twice, with presenting to Pakistan the concept of Energy Cane – that is the sugar cane that has been allowed to go to the natural state when it produces more biomass (the size of the stalk and the quantity of fermentable sugars, rather then crystallizable sugars that are the interest of the sugar industry). The Energy Cane is thus better if you really want energy products. To Bhutan I went to find out some more- and learn about- the concept of Gross National Happiness that originated with its leaders. INDIA is thus even today a great source of original economic and philosophical innovation – this if not interfered with by politics based on domination by religious specificity – or sometimes perhaps simply corruption – economically based.

Plain cultural tourism I experienced in the four INDIA States mentioned – Nepal, Bhutan, India, Pakistan. I saw in Kerala State of India people peacefully practicing Aramaic Christianity as old as Christianity itself, I visited the remaining memberships of three different Jewish groups of India – the Cochin Jews that were running the spice trade from time immemorial, the Black Jews of Bnei Israel near Mumbai, The Baghdadi Jews in Mumbai and New Delhi – some of whom are now British Lords and the heads of Banking in Hong Kong and Shanghai. I visited with various Hindu Sects, with Mahatma Gandhi’s Foundation, with the Krishna movement, with the Zoroastrians in Mumbai, with the Madame Blavatsky Peace loving movement – their world headquarter of the Theosophic Society is in Madras (now Chennay)… too many different groups and ideas to do justice in one paragraph – beyond trying to say that INDIA is not the ideal place for British colonization, or for US economic up-hand-manship capitalistic involvement.

This last remark brings us back to the results of World War II, which we described previously on www.SustainabiliTank.info, when in 1945, on the same trip abroad, at meetings at Yalta and then on the Suez, the world was carved out between Stalin and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, without the bravado of France present, and with the out-of-realism at the time Churchill’s agreement, East Europe went to the Soviets, and South-of-Siberia-Asia went to the US economic and political interests – allowing for the start of a COLD WAR. That cold war pushed also to the borders of INDIA into Afghanistan, and got halted at a line that was to include India and Pakistan that were carved out from the INDIA of yore.

Pakistan was an artificial creation with five regions of INDIA carved out for Muslims so local Muslims, and outside Muslims, could be given some satisfactions from the long British DIVIDE AND RULE policies. It was a clear disaster, and out of East Pakistan Bangladesh was spun off quite soon, with India and the West-Pakistan state at each other’s throat in Kashmir and Jamu. This confrontation, with the Cold War breathing hot – led to two nuclear technology States in-the-know – India and Pakistan. While India slowly tried to take over the economic, cultural and political mantle of the fallen INDIA, Pakistan tried to take over the mantle of an extremist Islamic world. Like the Catholics in the world that sometimes want to out-Catholize the Pope of the Vatican, there came about Pakistanis that wanted to out-Muslim the Saudis in the name of the US side in the Cold War with the Soviets in Afghanistan. So, the US and Saudi Arabia managed to build up the Islamic “Gholem” in the mountains of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan, but unlike the Gholem of Prague Jewish legend, there is no Rabbi Leev that has now the magic formula to undo the Islamic Gholem. This is now the downfall of Pakistan and Afghanistan and may lead again to disasters that can hit the world at large.

Now, with this introduction, let us take a look at what we can learn from the available press that hit me these last three days – and here comes handy our ELEPHANT THEOREM.

INDIA is the Elephant. It could have developed into a lovely cooperative animal that could have been an economy larger then Europe, as free as the United States ideal in the US Constitution. All the many ingredients of the cultures, religions, economies, political structures, that were at least a millennium old, and in some cases two and three millennia old, could have fit into a jig-puzzle like the EU is trying to do now – this if the British had not played one group against another in order to make the life of the British intruders easier.

Now, we have a different Elephant situation – that known to all as the description by blind people of an elephant animal – each description being rather accurate of a detail of that elephant. That is what we found in a collection of about twenty different reactions to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, known to her friends as Bibi, the two times Prime Minister of Pakistan and the leading candidate to take over Pakistan’s reins for a third time – President or Prime Minister.

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Assassination Rocks Pakistan
Opposition Leader Shot at Rally
Bhutto’s Backers Blame President

The first news of Thursday, December 27, 2007 from Rawalpindi and Islamabad, Pakistan: – An attack on a political rally killed the Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto near the capital, Islamabad, Thursday. Witnesses said Ms. Bhutto was fired upon at close range before the blast, and an official from her party said Ms. Bhutto was further injured by the explosion, which was apparently caused by a suicide attacker.
Ms. Bhutto was declared dead by doctors at a hospital in Rawalpindi at 6:16 p.m. after the doctors had tried to resuscitate her for thirty-five minutes. She had shrapnel injuries, the doctors said. At least a dozen more people were killed in the attack.

“At 6:16 p.m. she expired,” said Wasif Ali Khan, a member of Ms. Bhutto’s party who was at Rawalpindi General Hospital where she was taken after the attack, according to The Associated Press. Hundreds of supporters had gathered at the political rally, which was being held at Liaqut Bagh, a park that is a common venue for political rallies and speeches, in Rawalpindi, the garrison city adjacent to the capital.

Amid the confusion after the explosion, the site was littered with pools of blood. Shoes and caps of party workers were lying on the asphalt, and shards of glass were strewn about the ground. Pakistani television cameras captured images of ambulances pushing through crowds of dazed and injured people at the scene of the assassination.

CNN reported that witnesses at the scene described the assassin as opening fire on Ms. Bhutto and her entourage, hitting her at least once in the neck and once in the chest, before blowing himself up.

Farah Ispahani, a party official from Ms. Bhutto’s party, said: “It is too soon to confirm the number of dead from the party’s side. Private television channels are reporting twenty dead.” Television channels were also quoting police sources as saying that at least 14 people were dead.

Then, the Pakistani official announcement said there were no bullets found in her body, these were pieces of shrapnel from the bomb detonated by the suicide bomber.

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Friday December 28, 2007, McClatchy Newspapers wrote, from information from their correspondent in Pakistan Saeed Shah – “Pakistan Government Skips Autopsy, Shifts Story on How Bhutto Died.”

Larkana, Pakistan – Violence and recriminations grew Friday over the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, as Pakistan’s government changed its account of how she died while her supporters charged that the government withheld personal protection she’d requested.

As deadly protests continued to rage on Pakistan’s streets, the country’s Interior Ministry said that Bhutto – buried Friday without an autopsy – had died after she was thrown against the lever of her car’s sunroof, fracturing her skull. ….

“We have intelligence intercepts indicating that al Qaida leader Baitullah Mehsud is behind her assassination,” Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said.

Mehsud, who’s based in the lawless Waziristan region on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, has been behind a series of suicide attacks in the region, according to U.S. officials.

Pakistani authorities released a transcript of what they said was a conversation in which Mehsud exults after being told by an unidentified religious cleric that Bhutto is dead.

“It was a spectacular job. They were very brave boys who killed her,” Mehsud said, according to the transcript.”

Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, Mahmud Ali Durrani, said in a television interview Thursday that the security accorded Bhutto was “almost the same” as President Pervez Musharraf’s. “She was given not exactly what maybe she asked for, but for Pakistan’s environment, she was given the best protection possible,” Durrani said on PBS’s “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.”

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Washington lawyer Mark A. Siegel, Bhutto’s U.S. spokesman, released an e-mail that he said Bhutto had written Oct. 26, 2007, eight days after the earlier attempt on her life, complaining that Musharraf had denied her needed security measures. We saw him on CNN, and unless he is a trained theater or TV actor – this man and the material in his hand are completely true  www.SustainabiliTank.com comment). He knew her for 25 years, was a close friend and he has co-written a book with Benazir Bhutto that will come out in January. What he is saying is that Bhutto did not get the protection she was asking for.

Further, we saw on CNN how the Pakistani Ambassador, in answer to Mark Siegel, addressed the claim that she was not given adequate protection to a former Prime-Minister – that Bhutto was not a security person – just a lay person – she did not know what was good for her protection – it was the Pakistani security personnel that knew what was good for Bhutto’s protection.

“I have been made to feel insecure by his minions,” reads the e-mail, which Siegel sent to CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer for release in event of her death. That e-mail was with Blitzer already before the assassination. “There is no way what is happening in terms of stopping me from taking private cars or using tinted windows or giving jammers or four police mobiles to cover all sides could happen without him” she wrote.

The “jammers” appear to refer to devices that can interfere with the detonation of bombs, which – like the body armor – wouldn’t have saved Bhutto’s life Thursday. The “four police mobiles” refers to a screen of vehicles to the left, right, back and front of her own.

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But others said that Bhutto, who loved political rallies, at times seemed heedless of her own security, or fatalistic.

“In her enthusiasm, she got carried away, and exposed herself in ways” she shouldn’t have, said former State Department official Marvin Weinbaum of the Washington-based Middle East Institute.

In Pakistan, the shifting government explanations and Bhutto’s burial without autopsy aroused suspicion. Some say that her husband did not allow an autopsy – this clearly has to be veryfied with him!

Babar Awan, a senior official of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party, said of the sunroof theory: “That is a false claim.” He said he’d seen her body after the attack and there were at least two bullet marks, one in the neck and one on the top of the head: “It was a targeted, planned killing. The firing was from more than one side.”

Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister, Mohammadmian Soomro, told the Cabinet that Bhutto’s husband had insisted on no autopsy. But according to a leading lawyer, Athar Minallah, an autopsy is mandatory anyway under Pakistan’s criminal law in a case of this nature.

“It is absurd, because without autopsy it is not possible to investigate. Is the state not interested in reaching the perpetrators of this heinous crime or there was a cover-up?” Minallah said.

The scene of the attack also was watered down with a high-pressure hose within an hour, washing away evidence.

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The attack came just hours after four supporters of former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif died when members of another political party opened fire on them at a rally near the Islamabad airport Thursday, Pakistan police said.

Several other members of Sharif’s party were wounded, police said. Nawaz Sharif himself was at the side of Bhutto’s remaining family and on TV, as shown on CNN, said now that her loss is like a losss of a sister – clearly good politics for the moment.

Benazir Bhutto, who led Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and was the first female prime minister of any Islamic nation, was participating in the parliamentary election set for January 8, 2008, hoping for a third term.

A terror attack targeting her motorcade in Karachi when she returned from exile to Pakistan killed 136 people on the day she returned to Pakistan on October 19, 2007, after eight years of self-imposed exile.

CNN’s Mohsin Naqvi, who was at the scene of both bombings, said Thursday’s blast was not as powerful as that October attack.

Thursday’s attacks come less than two weeks after Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf lifted an emergency declaration he said was necessary to secure his country from terrorists. Will he now claim that this forced ending of the emergency rules was the reson that led to the assassination?

Two weeks after the October assassination attempt, Bhutto wrote a commentary for CNN.com in which she questioned why Pakistan investigators refused international offers of help in finding the attackers.

“The sham investigation of the October 19, 2007 massacre and the attempt by the ruling party to politically capitalize on this catastrophe are discomforting, but do not suggest any direct involvement by General Pervez Musharraf,” Bhutto wrote. Just think of the possibility that she wanted to believe that the US had an arrangement with Musharraf for an eventual “Co-habitation” agreement after the elextions – with Musharraf as President and her as prime-Minister. Perhaps she really wanted to believe that.

Ms. Bhutto saw herself as the inheritor of her father’s mantle, the Democratically elected leader who was executed by General Zia who took over from him by force of the military. Benazir often spoke of how he encouraged her to study the lives of legendary female leaders ranging from Indira Gandhi to Joan of Arc.

Following the idea of big ambition, Ms. Bhutto called herself chairperson for life of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party, a seemingly odd title in an organization based on democratic ideals and one she has acknowledged quarreling over with her mother, Nusrat Bhutto, in the early 1990s.

Saturday night at a diplomatic reception, Ms. Bhutto showed how she could aggrandize. Three million people came out to greet her in Karachi on her return last month, she said, calling it Pakistan’s “most historic” rally. In fact, crowd estimates were closer to 200,000, many of them provincial party members who had received small amounts of money to make the trip.

Such flourishes led questioning in Pakistan about the strength of her democratic ideals in practice, and a certain distrust, particularly amid signs of back-room deal-making with General Musharraf, the military ruler she opposed.

“She believes she is the chosen one, that she is the daughter of Bhutto and everything else is secondary,” said Feisal Naqvi, a corporate lawyer in Lahore who knew Ms. Bhutto.

When Ms. Bhutto was re-elected to a second term as Prime Minister, her style of government combined both the traditional and the modern, said Zafar Rathore, a senior civil servant at the time.

But her view of the role of government differed little from the classic notion in Pakistan that the state was the preserve of the ruler who dished out favors to constituents and colleagues, he recalled.

As secretary of interior, responsible for the Pakistani police force, Mr. Rathore, who is now retired, said he tried to get an appointment with Ms. Bhutto to explain the need for accountability in the force. He was always rebuffed, he said.

Finally, when he was seated next to her in a small meeting, he said to her, “I’ve been waiting to see you,” he recounted. “Instantaneously, she said: ‘I am very busy, what do you want. I’ll order it right now.’ “

She could not understand that a civil servant might want to talk about policies, he said. Instead, he said, “she understood that when all civil servants have access to the sovereign, they want to ask for something.”

But until her death, Ms. Bhutto ruled the party with an iron hand, jealously guarding her position, even while leading the party in absentia for nearly a decade.

Members of her party saluted her return to Pakistan, saying she was the best choice against General Musharraf. Chief among her attributes, they said, was sheer determination.

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The Japan Times Editorial of Sunday, December 30, 2007 puts it right as it is:

Assassination of Benazir Bhutto
Like her father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, a Pakistani prime minister who was executed by the military in 1979 after being ousted from power, Ms. Benazir Bhutto, the charismatic opposition leader died an unnatural death — shot to death by an assassin Thursday. Her death, which occurred only 12 days after President Pervez Musharraf lifted a six-week state of emergency is a tragedy for Pakistan. It put the country into further disarray and the effects extend beyond the country’s borders.

Ms. Bhutto became the first female prime minister in the Muslim world in 1988 and again took power in 1993. She came back to Pakistan in October after 8 1/2 years of self-imposed exile to lead Pakistan’s secular forces.

She was the country’s most pro-Western political figure, and a foe of Islamic extremist forces. The United States, which treats Pakistan as a frontline state in its fight against terrorism, apparently hoped for a power-sharing arrangement between Mr. Musharraf and Ms. Bhutto as a means of maintaining stability in the country.

With Ms. Bhutto’s death, the U.S. will be forced to rethink its approach. Meanwhile, her death will serve as a boon to extremist forces, including Taliban and al-Qaida forces in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. The situation could lead to more attacks on Afghanistan by Taliban forces.

The assassination of Ms. Bhutto has strengthened the impression that Mr. Musharraf lacks the capability to ensure security in his country and to prevent the destabilization of the first nuclear-armed Muslim country. The worst scenario would be Islam extremists getting hold of nuclear weapons.

Supporters of Ms. Bhutto accuse Mr. Musharraf of having failed to provide sufficient security for her. Mr. Nawaz Sharif, another two-time former prime minister and main opposition leader, announced that his party will boycott the Jan. 8 general elections. Even if Mr. Musharraf wins, his legitimacy will be weakened and protests against him are likely to grow fiercer. Mr. Musharraf faces his biggest crisis.

STATEMENT BY INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP (MaximsNews Network)

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Brussels, 27 December 2007: The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi on 27 December 2007 is a serious blow to the re-emergence of democracy in Pakistan and the country’s return to stability. The leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party and former prime minister died alongside her colleagues and supporters campaigning in elections. The international community must now come together to push for a full investigation into the murders.

“Our condolences go to her family and to the people of Pakistan,” said Gareth Evans, President and CEO of the International Crisis Group. “Since the 1980s, she had been a vital and often under-estimated political force. Prospects for democracy and stability in Pakistan are much dimmer without her.”

Pakistan’s military-backed interim government is not in a position to carry out a fair investigation into the assassination. The United Nations Security Council should meet urgently to establish an international commission of enquiry to determine who ordered and carried out the killings. Given the long-standing connections between the Pakistani military and jihadi groups, this would be the only way to carry out an impartial and credible investigation.

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Benazir wrote about herself:

“Why I’m Returning To Pakistan”
Posted September 1, 2007, The Huffington Post.

“I was looking forward to a quiet family holiday in New York this summer with my three children, our dog Maxmillian and my husband, who is being treated for a heart condition that developed while he was a political prisoner in Pakistan from 1996 to 2004. I thought we would go to the theatre and spend time walking in Central Park, as well meeting up with friends for nice, long chatty dinners. But in this surprisingly momentous summer of 2007, our quiet family vacation disappeared as we found ourselves caught up in the media attention on my country Pakistan, and its fast changing political situation.

It is clear to those following events in South Asia that Pakistan is truly at a turning point. Almost a decade of military dictatorship has devastated the basic infrastructure of democracy. Political parties have been assaulted, political leaders arrested, and the judicial system manipulated to force party leaders into exile. NGOs have been under constant attack, especially those that deal with human rights, democratic values and women’s rights. The press has been intimidated, with some reporters — even those that work for papers like the New York Times — arrested, beaten or made to disappear. Student and labor unions have not been allowed to function. The electoral institutions of the nation have been manipulated by an Election Commission that could not stop rigging and fraud. And in the battle against terrorism, we look on with dismay as the government of Pakistan ceded sections of our nation that previously had been governed by the rule of law to Taliban sympathizers and to Al Qaeda, making Pakistan the Petri dish of the international terrorist movement.

But the most dangerous manifestation of this retreat from democracy has been a growing sense of hopelessness of the people of Pakistan, and a total disillusionment with the political system’s ability to address their daily problems. The social sector has festered — under-financed and relegated to the back burner of national policy. All the indicators of quality of life have spiraled down, from employment to education to housing to health care. And as people’s sense of disillusionment has grown, there has been a corresponding growth in the spread of religious and political extremism. The failure of the regime has made our citizens open to extra-governmental experimentation with fanaticism. This has clearly been manifest in the spread of politicized Madrases, schools in which the curriculum incorporates xenophobia, bigotry and often para-military terrorist training. But poor parents who cannot feed or clothe their children entrust them to these kinds of schools, so their children may be fed and housed.

The growth of the Madrases is but one important signal that extremism has been making inroads against moderation amongst the Pakistani polity. I have always believed that the battle between extremism and moderation is the underlying battle for the very soul of Pakistan. Yet moderation can prevail against the extremists only if democracy flourishes and the social sector improves the quality of life of the people. In 2007, I sensed that the decade of dictatorship was threatening to undermine the moderate majority of Pakistan, those people committed to pluralism, to education, to technology — in other words, those committed to Pakistan taking its place among the community of civilized nations as a leader in the 21st century. Under democracy, the extremists had been marginalized in the past, never receiving more than 11% of the vote in an election. But under dictatorship, Pakistan was edging toward extremism, chaos, and sliding towards a failed state.

My party [the Pakistan Peoples Party] was engaged in a dialogue with the regime of General Musharraf, but discussions didn’t move the regime concretely toward democratic reform. In the summer of 2007, after the reinstatement of the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the birth of judicial activism, the dialogue with General Musharraf took a more substantive turn. It seemed now that the country had an opportunity to peacefully transition to democracy, which is critical for the other war — the war of moderation against extremism — to succeed. I had a choice. Engage in dialogue, or turn toward the streets. I knew that street protests against the Musharraf dictatorship could lead to the deaths of hundreds. I thought about the choice before me very carefully. I chose dialogue; I chose negotiation; I chose to find a common ground that would unite all the moderate elements of Pakistan for a peaceful transfer to a workable political system that was responsive to the needs of the 160 million people of Pakistan whose empowerment is critical to the success of both governing and the fight against terrorism.

I know that some in Pakistan, including those in political parties were so embittered with the military regime that they wanted the door of dialogue shut. But from the very beginning my goal was and remains to guarantee a free and open electoral process that would provide for a legitimate Parliament and provincial assemblies that would then select, in a constitutional process, a civilian President who understands that in a parliamentary democracy, the parliament is supreme. I wasn’t negotiating for a guaranteed outcome, I was negotiating for a guaranteed process. That was the goal at the beginning. That is the goal now. Are we making progress towards that goal? I still am unable to say. There are many elements, in particular those sympathizers in the ruling Party and Government who enabled the extremists and militants to expand their influence in my country who are fearful of the return of the PPP and a rollback of the terrorist forces that have gained strength since my government was overthrown in 1996. They want to scuttle a process that could see the emergence of a moderate Pakistan. So it has been a roller coaster ride. Some times the dialogue moves forward with General Musharraf . But then he consults his colleagues in the ruling alliance and retracts from confidence building measures promised for a fair electoral process.

As the presidential and parliamentary elections approach, I am making plans with my supporters to return to Pakistan. I know that it is critical for Pakistan to return to a democratic way of life so that the people’s problems can be addressed. When people are partners with government, they stand up to defend their communities against terrorists, criminals and negative forces.

My stay in New York wasn’t exactly the family vacation I had planned, but it was a critical period of weeks that could very well determine the future of Pakistan. I long ago realized that my personal life was to be subjugated to my political responsibilities. When my democratically elected father, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was arrested in 1977 and subsequently murdered, the mantle of leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party, our nation’s largest, nationwide grassroots political structure, was suddenly thrust upon me. It was not the life I planned, but it is the life I have. My husband and children accept and understand that my political responsibilities to the people of Pakistan come first, as painful as that personally is to all of us. I would like to be planning my son’s move to his first year at college later this month, but instead I am planning my return to Pakistan and my party’s parliamentary election campaign.

I didn’t choose this life. It chose me.”

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What is uncanny is the fact that at her funeral on Friday it was revealed that Ms Bhutto had gone to her father’s burial place (Just days before her Rawalpindi Liaquat Bagh speech, and had given instructions to the caretakers there that she be buried next to her father, Zulfiqar Ai Bhutto, in case of her death.)

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We know thus that Benazir Bhutto came back to Pakistan in full knowledge that she might get killed – she was thus a self-appointed martyr to a cause – that is clear to us, and we will just try to understand what was this cause and then to watch if she will turn out to be the eventual winner in her death – was this the hope of a suicide martyr?

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Some insides to her from friends first Ariana Huffington:

Benazir Bhutto: From the Oxford Union to her Last Rally in Rawalpindi
Posted December 27, 2007 | 06:06 PM (EST) The Huffington Post

The world is debating the political fallout from Benazir Bhutto’s assassination — from fear of chaos in Pakistan to the impact of her death in Iowa. There is already no shortage of analysis about the national security implications of her death, but I want to write about the young woman I met in England before she became a player on the world stage.

She was at Oxford. I was at Cambridge. And by a strange coincidence I became president of the Cambridge Union and she became president of the Oxford Union. The anomaly of two foreign women heading the two unions meant that we ended up debating each other around England on topics ranging from British politics to broad generalities about the impact of technological advance on mankind.

When I checked my blackberry this morning at 5:28 am LA time there was an e-mail from our news editor Katherine Zaleski: “Benazir Bhutto killed by bombing.” As we found out afterwards she was killed by an assassin’s bullet. But just as the news was filled with the details of her death, my mind was filled with how full of life she had been every time I had seen her, including the last time in 1998 when she came to my home in Los Angeles for a dinner (which Harry Shearer, also there, wrote about). She was in exile, her husband in jail, and she was separated from her children.

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But still, there was an incredible life force about her, a sense that no matter what life brought her way, whether a tough debating argument, or exile, or her father’s death by hanging, or the deaths of her two brothers — she could deal with it, and she would prevail. Until the rally in Rawalpindi.

Three years earlier, I had seen her at the height of her power and fullness of life when she was staying at Blair House in Washington, DC as the visiting prime minister of Pakistan — the first woman prime minister in the Muslim world. She had her third child with her and took me to her bedroom to meet her. Then she sat on the bed with her baby in her arms while we laughed about our lives on the debating circuit, and talked about her life now. (Including how much she loved her husband. She was trying to convince me that even though it was a marriage arranged by her mother, she had fallen in love with him, as if she had spotted him herself across a crowded room.) She had arrived at Oxford from Harvard, where she had gone at 16 after her convent school in Karachi. But wherever she was, she was at home because she was always at home in her own skin.

I wrote a book about fearlessness last year, long before the rally in Rawalpindi, where she went against everyone’s advice and despite the fact that there had already been a failed attempt at her life. She was fearlessness epitomized. Many will debate her political successes and failures, her personal probity in public office, the charges of corruption against her and of course the national security implications of her death, but for now I’m just filled with a profound sadness about the end of a woman that was always brimming with life. I asked her to blog before she returned to Pakistan and blog she did. Here’s a portion of what she wrote this fall:

“I long ago realized that my personal life was to be subjugated to my political responsibilities. When my democratically elected father, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was arrested in 1977 and subsequently murdered, the mantle of leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party, our nation’s largest, nationwide grassroots political structure, was suddenly thrust upon me. It was not the life I planned, but it is the life I have. My husband and children accept and understand that my political responsibilities to the people of Pakistan come first, as painful as that personally is to all of us. I would like to be planning my son’s move to his first year at college later this month, but instead I am planning my return to Pakistan and my party’s parliamentary election campaign.

I didn’t choose this life. It chose me.”

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MaximNews Network has a story about another young lady, who was a student at Oxford University and was befriended by Bibi (that is where we learned about this nickname. All point at her being a nice down to earth lady. Was she tough in politics, perhaps so indeed – but what do you expect from a woman that was western educated but still had to conform to the norms of her country and marry someone she did not even see before the wedding say? Asif Zardari was her husband and in effect whatever corruption tails are spun about her really mention his name not her name. All she got out of this marriage were problems as she saw the death of her father, the death of her two brothers, and eventually the imprisonment of her husband. It is known she had disagreements with the mother that picked her husband.

Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto (“Bibi”)- 21 June 1953 – 27 December 2007- Leader, Mother and A Friend Who Will Be Much Missed By Mahnaz Malik 28/ 12/2007 (MaximsNews Network)

Twenty four hours have passed since the news of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination stopped traffic on Pakistan’s streets. The media is flooded by tributes from national and international leaders who mourn the loss of Pakistan’s most famous daughter. There are wails from her supporters- tearful old men, angry teenagers and crying women- who vociferously lament the death of their sister and leader.

The world has not only lost a great leader in Benazir, a precious bridge between the east and west, but perhaps the most remarkable woman premier of our time. She emerged as the first Muslim woman to lead a nation, a virtually impossible feat, and became an inspiration to women the world over. However, for those of us who knew Benazir personally, we will miss her as the generous, warm and highly intelligent friend, who made us feel special and cherished despite the heavy demands on her time.

I have always kept my relationship with Benazir discreet because it was personal, not political. For me, Bibi was my mentor and a dear friend, who I have known since the age of seven. Her death has left me divided between my fear for Pakistan’s future and immense grief in knowing that my dear Bibi is no more. Her assassins have taken away some one who had much to teach to me, indeed to us all. However, my grief pales in comparison to the loss of her family because in addition to being a great leader, Bibi was an amazing mother, sister, wife and friend.

Today, I want to share a few of the many memories I have of this remarkable woman. She is often painted by her critics as an arrogant and corrupt demagogue, but the person I knew was far from this description. Whenever, I have been asked to comment on Benazir’s political conduct in office, I have reserved my opinion because as a friend who cared for her, I cannot be the best judge. However, I have no hesitance in testifying to the commendable attributes she possessed as a person and friend.

Bibi’s gender augmented the challenges of being a political leader in Pakistan. While there were those who rejected her capability simply because she was a woman, there were others who accused her of not doing enough for women’s rights when in office. The Bibi I knew believed in empowering women, and took every opportunity to encourage them to succeed. When I was seven, my grandfather introduced me to a frail young woman as the future Prime minister of my country. Bibi visited our family house under cover of night in 1986 as my grand father negotiated with the martial law regime of General Zia on her behalf. I doubt Bibi knew at the time the significance of her note to the little girl she had just met: “For Mahnaz, who I believe will grow up to serve her country and her people”. Her autograph to my male cousins simply said “Best Wishes”. Those words planted in me a desire and responsibility to help my people and country at an early age. It also left me feeling special; it was usually my male cousins who received all the attention from visitors to my grand father’s house. Bibi was “deeply moved” when I told her this story a couple of years ago when we discussed how important positive role models were for young people. As her own children grew up, she often spoke about their future with me. She wanted Bakhtawar, her eldest daughter to become a lawyer and was very proud that Bilawal had made it to Oxford.

Bibi felt great empathy with working women, whether it was a Cherie Blair, or a labourer toiling in Sindh. At the same time, she firmly believed in a family life. Bibi doted on her three children, Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Aseefa, to whom she was a caring mother. Between her crazy schedule of meetings, Bibi and I would drive around London searching for Buffy the Vampire comic books that her children had requested. However, her affection was balanced with instilling values for hard work and respect of money. I remember watching a young Aseefa struggle with her math as Bibi made her count the pennies received from a shopkeeper.

Bibi’s nurturing instinct extended beyond her children, to her sister Sanam, and to younger friends like myself. It even extended to her pet cat, whose sickness kept her up at night. She would often take us all out to lunch, a small tribe comprising of her children, her sister, cousins and friends. It was Bibi, the former prime minister of Pakistan, who ensured that every one had the pizza they wanted. She was equally meticulously in ensuring that she was there for her associates during times of grief or joy. She was always one of the first to congratulate me on my achievements. When I finished my first children’s book, Mo’s Star, Bibi wrote two special messages for children reading the book: “Learn to take risks and you will learn to reach the heights of success” and “Patience and perseverance are the keys to success. Never give up. Never lose heart”. These words now take on a significance more than ever before in view of yesterday’s events.

When we went out visiting, Bibi was meticulous about choosing the right present for her host. She never forgot a good deed- Decades after my grand father’s death, she always recounted his favours to her, from his political support during her detention to the boxes of chocolates he would send to her in jail. Bibi had little to gain from me politically or for that matter my deceased grand father, and yet she never forgot the friendship forged between the families that continued with our association.

Her critics say she amassed a personal fortune by plundering Pakistan. The charges of corruption against her have never been proven in a court of law. I remember her feeling frustrated at the reporting of the Swiss proceedings by the press. “Aren’t you presumed innocent, until proven guilty under law? Then why am I being presumed guilty by the media until proven innocent?” she would vent to me during our many walks in the park. I never saw Bibi spend extravagantly. I remember when I moved into my first apartment, we went shopping together for linen and crockery. It was Bibi who spotted all the best bargains on the sale. What I did see her splurging on were books, which she bought by the box full for herself and the children. Her pleasures were simple, going out for films (she loved a good old romantic movie), walking in the park or sitting around in café with close friends and family.

Her critics say she was arrogant, yet Bibi never made me feel less important because she was a former prime minister and I was a mere undergraduate. When we made arrangements to meet, Bibi gave tremendous respect to my time as we matched schedules. Those who have known her in a professional context may have a different experience but during all the years I have known Bibi I only saw her being polite to those around her. I remember Bibi addressing a rude sales girl as “ma’am” as she tried to reason with her. There was never a trace of “Don’t you know who I am?”.

In fact, Bibi at times was surprisingly unaware of her stature when in the company of friends, as if for those hours she was taking a break from playing the leader of millions, just to be herself. Out of my first pay check, I took Bibi to The Ivy in London. I thought it was time to return at least one of the many lunches she had treated me to over the years. I was surprised that Bibi had never been to the Ivy before. I saw the flash of a young girl as she asked me to look for the celebrities the Ivy is so famous for. As I gazed around the restaurant, I saw other customers looking at our table. I found it endearing that Bibi did not realise that she was the celebrity at the restaurant that day, and every one was watching her.

Her critics say she was a pampered princess, and yet I never saw her rest. Bibi was a workaholic glued to her computer. She was extremely efficient with answering emails, and reading copious amounts of paper. Bibi kept her staff to the minimum, there was no entourage of assistants or professionals, just the bare minimum. I often sent her the odd intern to ease her workload because she was so overstretched. Contrary to what people think, she was not living in a palace with a large staff. Her HQ was always a few computers with various volunteers helping out. At the very centre of activity was Bibi working away, until we would drag her to take that much needed break. More recently, with her lecture circuit, we used to discuss how much we had to travel just to earn a living.

Her critics called her a demagogue, yet Bibi gave up her life to a cause she believed in, her commitment to democracy, her dream for a moderate, progressive Pakistan. Bibi was well aware of the risks involved in her return to Pakistan. During our last meeting in March over sorbets in a Dubai restaurant, we spoke about her return. She was keen to fulfil the promise she had made to her countrymen and women. I knew Bibi had waited for years to come back to Pakistan to meet her people. Her critics may take issue with her politics, indeed there were times when I disagreed with her politics, but it will be hard for them to contest her commitment to serve Pakistan. Despite a near death experience in a suicide bomb attack in October, she continued to appear in public rallies because she wanted to be with her people. It is sad that the bullet that killed Bibi hit just as she emerged to greet her party members. And then the Bibi I knew, so full of passion, wit and affection, was taken away forever.

As the television shows her funeral I cannot believe that my beautiful friend, ies in a box buried in the ground. I find it hard to understand why I will never enjoy an ice cream with her or exchange an email. My loss, which has left me reeling with grief, is insignificant compared to that of her family and the country in a crisis she wanted to save. However, once my tears dry, I fear that they may be replaced by a different kind of grief for the risks to the lives of hundreds of Pakistanis as a crisis looms on the horizon.

Bibi, wherever you are I hope my prayers and love reach you. You are much missed. You lived up to the promise you made to us all. May you find eternal peace and rest. I hope your sacrifice will not go in vain. Mahnaz Malik

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Bibi was the last hope of her father’s immediate family. The PPP (Pakistan’s People Party), was a dynastic party. With her death, will the party be able to survive. The best chance for the party is for it to be taken over by the judges that are still in prison – the actual start of chain of events that have disqualified the now Mr. Musharraf from running the country – this when he dissolved the Supreme Court that questioned his legitimacy. This would require the postponement of the January 8, 2008 elections – something that the US seems not to want.

The press looks now at the continuation of the Musharraf Presidency as what the US wishes for itself and for Pakistan. The reality is that even before the killing, the US did not instigate the October return of Ms. Bhutto in order to allow her to become President – what the US wanted is to patch over the differences by having a co- habitation of president Musharraf and Prime-Minister Bhutto but the Foggy Bottom inhabitants did not do the necessary work to make sure that this does not become a Bhutto suicide line of events?

Does the US really understand what we started with – the INDIA that was destroyed by the British and the “Great Game” that in parallel involved years ago the British and Russia and Afghanistan – as they did not understand also the French in the Vietnam story, and stepped there into the French shoes to US peril? Do we have now the same thing in Pakistan with a US Administration that will feel obliged to back a Musharaff who got US$ billions and gave to the US nothing in return?

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Interesting accounts we found:

Who Will Succeed Bhutto?
By Spencer Ackerman
TPM Muckraker

Thursday 27 December 2007

Try as Nawaz Sharif might to carry the banner of Benazir Bhutto, he might not be the optimal anti-Musharraf candidate. For one thing, even if Musharraf holds a promised election, Sharif isn’t eligible to run, thanks to a ruling of the Musharraf-controlled Electoral Commission. For another, there’s another secular, democratic politician waiting in the wings who might resonate with this year’s middle-class rejection of Musharraf.

Ex-Bhutto aide Husain Haqqani says he expects Aitzaz Ahsan to ascend to the leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party, the party first led by Bhutto’s father. “He’s in the best position,” Haqqani says. Ahsan was the chief counsel for former Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, whose ouster by Musharraf on dubious charges of personal corruption proved to be the final straw for much of middle-class Pakistan. A longtime PPP member, respected barrister and democracy advocate, Ahsan’s representation of Chaudhry landed him a stint in prison when Musharraf declared emergency rule on November 3. As a result, Haqqani says, Ahsan “disagreed with Benazir’s more conciliatory stance” toward Musharraf.

Ahsan has an international profile as well. An old enemy of 80s-vintage dictator Zia ul-Haq, he gained global esteem for his willingness to go to jail for the sake of democracy. After his November detention, 33 U.S. Senators wrote to Musharraf demanding his release. Still, Ahsan’s profile is much higher in Pakistan than it is in the United States. But shortly before Christmas, he penned this New York Times op-ed:

“Last Thursday morning, I was released to celebrate the Id holidays. But that evening, driving to Islamabad to say prayers at Faisal Mosque, my family and I were surrounded at a rest stop by policemen with guns cocked and I was dragged off and thrown into the back of a police van. After a long and harrowing drive along back roads, I was returned home and to house arrest.
Every day, thousands of lawyers and members of the civil society striving for a liberal and tolerant society in Pakistan demonstrate on the streets. They are bludgeoned by the regime’s brutal police and paramilitary units. Yet they come out again the next day.
People in the United States wonder why extremist militants in Pakistan are winning. What they should ask is why does President Musharraf have so little respect for civil society – and why does he essentially have the backing of American officials?”

With Ahsan a potential successor to Bhutto, those questions have a renewed salience. As does his implicit challenge to Washington to support Pakistani democracy:
How long can the leaders of the lawyers’ movement be detained? They will all be out one day. And they will neither be silent nor still.

They will recount the brutal treatment meted out to them for seeking the establishment of a tolerant, democratic, liberal and plural political system in Pakistan. They will state how the writ of habeas corpus was denied to them by the arbitrary and unconstitutional firing of Supreme and High Court justices. They will spell out precisely how one man set aside a Constitution under the pretext of an “emergency,” arrested the judges, packed the judiciary, “amended” the Constitution by a personal decree and then “restored” it to the acclaim of London and Washington.

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other potential PPP candidates:

Asif Ali Zardari
As Benazir Bhutto’s husband and the father of their three children, Mr Zardari has become the natural choice as party leader for some of PPP’s hardcore leaders and activists, who see in him the assurance of carrying forward the former leader’s policies. However, he is not popular with the masses because of corruption allegations, which were never proved but for which he was jailed from 1990 to 1993, and again from 1996 to 2004. PPP leaders say Mr Zardari’s strongest credentials come from being the father of a future leader should Bilawal, the couple’s 19-year-old, choose to enter politics.

Amin Fahim

As PPP vice-chairman, he is theoretically next in line to Bhutto. Mr Fahim has been an influential figure in Pakistani politics since the 1970s, and one of Bhutto’s staunchest allies. Both came from feudal, religious families in the Sindh province, which ironically is Mr Fahim’s biggest liabilility since he remains politically overshadowed by the Bhutto family on his home turf. In control of the party during Bhutto’s eight-year exile from April 1999, Mr Fahim constantly resisted pressure from Pervez Musharraf to turn his back on her in return for being made prime minister. His election as head of the PPP would come as a surprise to many of the party’s leaders.

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Another Ugly Day in Pakistani Politics
Posted by Joshua Holland, AlterNet at 12:20 PM on December 27, 2007.

Let’s look at hard at the narratives that are emerging about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

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Here’s Bush’s spin on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto:

“The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy,” said Bush, who looked tense and took no questions.

It’s clearly too early to say, but the “murderous extremists” are just as likely to have been elements of the Pakistani military as anyone else. But more on that in a minute.

There are a few narratives that are being reinforced by the media today, all of which are, at best, badly oversimplified. They are:

  • Benazir Bhutto was a brave democracy activist, a symbol of women of color breaking down the doors and storming the corridors of power. She was a much-beloved figure who gave up a cushy life in exile to return to Pakistan to bring stability and democracy to a troubled land.
  • Musharraf is a “moderate Islamic leader” whose reckless abuses of power are tolerated by the international community because he stands as a bulwark against Al Qaeda radicals.
  • It’s simply a given that the assassination was directly related to the struggle against “Islamofascism” — or whatever silly label one prefers.

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a shocking and tragic occurrence that’s going to have terrible repercussions in Pakistan and beyond. That doesn’t mean, however, that we should white-wash her background or lionize her as some sort of saint. She was a hero to many when she came to power, and she was the prominent face of the Pakistani democracy movement this time around. But she and her husband also robbed the country blind during her time in office and went into “self imposed exile” with tens of millions of dollars tucked away in a series of secret accounts.

Many in Pakistan saw her as the petty kleptocrat that she was. Although Bhutto always claimed that all the corruption charges against her (and her husband) were trumped up, they were tried in Western courts as well as in Pakistan; the couple were found guilty of laundering millions of dollars in bribes and kick-backs after a 6-year trial in Switzerland.

When Bhutto first came to power, her administration tried to push back against the religious fundamentalists who are a fixture in Pakistani politics but made little progress. During her time as Prime Minister, she supported and aided the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan, viewing them as a stabilizing force after all years of chaos under the Russian occupation and during the anarchy that followed. Although Bhutto joined the rest of the world in condemning them after 9/11, when it suited her, she had played footsie with religious fundamentalists just like everyone else in Pakistani politics has, ever since the founding of the nation.

As for Musharraf, it’s just a marvel that anyone could call him a “moderate” with a straight face. Just as dozens of petty dictators during the Cold War realized that they could receive American aid, military assistance and political cover for cracking down on internal dissent simply by saying those magic words: “I’m an anti-Communist,” Musharraf’s declaration of war against Islamic extremism has been a model of cynical super-power manipulation. It’s worked out great; after seizing power in a military coup, the guy’s passed laws effectively outlawing his political opponents’ candidacies, suspended the Constitution and the judiciary and placed half of the country’s elites under house arrest, yet the media continue to portray him as a moderate leader. He’s a moderate like I’m Miss America.

Here’s Najum Mushtaq, of the Pak Institute for Peace Studies:

He portrayed himself as a liberal Muslim and parroted moderate Islam to appease the West. Yet, in the eight years of his military rule General Musharraf too displayed an ambiguous attitude towards the religious right in Pakistan. On the one hand, his regime is an ally of the United States in the campaign to curb extremism and militancy. On the other hand, the religious parties, some of them overtly pro-Taliban, have been his political allies and helped to sustain his illegitimate rule by acquiescing in his post-2002 experiment of controlled democracy. Under General Musharraf, the religious parties were able to win elections in one of the four provinces and became the major coalition partner in another in partnership with the pro-Musharraf faction of the Pakistan Muslim League.

Mushtaq points to a report by the International Crisis Group:

Despite his propensity to rule through decrees and ordinances, President Musharraf has been unwilling to use his powers to implement his pledges to control religious extremism. On the contrary, his constitutional amendments, contained in the Legal Framework Order 2002, have undermined the domestic standing of moderate secular parties. Moreover, the military has actively supported the religious parties during and after the October 2002 elections. The MMA, an alliance of religious parties, is a major beneficiary of the military’s use of all available means to manipulate parliamentary alliances and forge acceptable governments.”

In the lead-up to the current elections — which everyone seems to agree will now be suspended — the pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party has been busy trying to strike a partnership with Musharraf’s supporters in the Muslim League. That’s our bulwark against Al Qaeda, right there.

So who killed Benazir Bhutto? I’m writing this a few hours after the news broke and can safely say that I don’t know. What I do know is that it will be — is already being — taken as a given that the killing was carried out by Islamic extremists. That’s entirely possible, but Musharraf and/or his supporters in the Pakistani military are also prime suspects, with motive, means, etc.

What I can also say with certainty is that while all Pakistani politics are influenced by religious conflict, and have been since the country was founded, the recent crisis had little to do (directly) with Musharraf’s supposed crack-down on extremists. Musharraf said he was going to war against pro-Taliban extremists, but he cracked down on his political opponents, on democracy activists and lawyers and judges — it was not about rolling back militancy, but rolling back Pakistan’s beaten and bruised democracy movement.

As Spencer Ackerman points out at TPM, both Bhutto’s advisors and Nawaz Sharif (who escaped a possible assassination attempt himself an now becomes the most prominent face of the opposition) are accusing Musharraf of being behind the killing. At the same time, as Ali Eteraz notes, Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attack. We will see (or maybe not).

I think it’s important to understand that the U.S. had a key role in the events leading up to today’s tragedy. It was becoming increasingly difficult for the Bush administration to support Musharraf while spewing the usual rhetoric about democratization and the rule of law and all that, so they played a very active role in brokering the deal between Musharraf and Bhutto that led to her return from exile and brought her to this unhappy end. The idea was that as long as Musharraf was unlikely to cede real power, Bhutto’s presence would help legitimize the Pakistani regime. But the administration seriously overestimated the degree of popular support Bhutto had. Essentially, we pushed Bhutto into the mix, and, as Tom Daschle noted in testimony before Congress last week (PDF) Musharraf, who was pushed to hold elections by Congress (which threatened and then did put conditions on U.S. aid to Pakistan), did exactly nothing to create a secure environment in which the process could take place.

It’s a pretty typical U.S. foreign policy set of blunders: support an illegitimate dictator because he’s “our” dictator, ignore his abuses until they become too embarrassing to ignore, then get together some State Department staff to start mucking around in the domestic politics of a country even if they don’t have a really firm handle on the nuances of its political culture and, while the specific chain of events may come as a surprise, the fact that the outcome will be bad is entirely predictable. Wash, rinse and repeat.

The sad irony here is that because of the baggage she carried, Benazir Bhutto will probably be much more effective as a martyr to democracy than she would be as it’s spokesperson. But that’s not good news; reports filtering out of Pakistan suggest widespread chaos has broken out in various states, and the prospects for a lot more blood shed to follow are simply frightening.

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.

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Benazir Bhutto: An Age of Hope Is Over
By Barbara Crossette, The Nation. Posted December 28, 2007.

Our preoccupation with Muslim terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan often blocks out the bigger picture: South Asia is a region drenched in blood.

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Nineteen years ago at the end of December, Benazir Bhutto, fresh from her first, exhilarating election victory and newly sworn in as Prime Minister of Pakistan, met Rajiv Gandhi, the youthful prime minister of India, for talks in Islamabad. She was 35, he was 44. There was obvious good will, almost intimacy, between them. The air was full of promise and hope that these two modernizing scions of dominant political families would turn decades of war and hostility between their nations into a new era of peace.

Three and a half years later, Gandhi was assassinated. There had been no breakthrough with Pakistan to bolster his legacy. Now Bhutto is dead, at another moment of renewed anticipation. An age of hope is over.

There is a terrible symmetry in the lives and deaths of these two political leaders. Both were the children of powerful people: Indira Gandhi as India’s prime minister and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto her counterpart in Pakistan. Together, in 1972, they had negotiated an agreement over Kashmir, but their heirs were never able to build on it. Their respective children, Rajiv and Benazir, had seen those parents suffer politically motivated deaths: Indira murdered in 1984 by bodyguards revenging her attacks on Sikhs, and Zulfikar hanged under the regime of General Mohammed Zia ul Haq in what many Pakistanis consider a thinly disguised judicial execution.

Young Gandhi and Bhutto, both killed by suicide bombers, ultimately became the victims of inherited policies. Rajiv Gandhi had tried to put an end to Indian meddling in Sri Lanka and its support for a vicious Tamil Tiger rebellion. He was killed by a Sri Lankan Tamil suicide bomber, a woman who moved toward him to touch his feet in an age-old gesture, then triggered an explosion that blew them both apart. While it is too early to know who killed Benazir, Pakistan’s policies on Afghanistan are the backdrop to this tense and dangerous moment. Her father and his successors had supported Afghan rebels in order to become a player in Afghanistan and counter Indian influence in Kabul lately aligning riskily with American policies. Rajiv’s mother, whose intelligence agencies roamed the region causing havoc, had set out to weaken Sri Lanka, South Asia’s most developed nation.

Benazir Bhutto and Rajiv Gandhi were both campaigning to return to power when they died. Both had been elected, then vilified. She lost support among middle-class Pakistanis for her feudal ways and unwillingness to take on social issues — child labor or the mistreatment of women — or chip away at the power of the military, and was driven from office twice on charges of corruption, much of it attributed to her husband. In India, Rajiv was the perennial butt of attacks from unreconstructed leftists and traditionalists who scoffed at his Westernized style, Italian wife and fresh ideas that rattled the khadi crowd. On the night he died, a policeman told me they had identified his remains by his expensive imported running shoes. Suspicions linger that Gandhi or those close to him may have been involved in illegal payments for arms contracts.

Tragically, political violence has been the bane of modern South Asia, from Afghanistan and Pakistan east to Bangladesh. Militants and fanatics of all stripes and dogmas and grievances have assassinated leaders since much of the region gained independence from Britain in the mid 1940s. It has been a formidable hindrance to development of political institutions.

In New Delhi, Mohandas K. Gandhi was killed in 1948 by an outraged Hindu. Pakistan’s first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, was assassinated in 1951 — in the same Rawalpindi park where Benazir Bhutto died — and General Zia ul Haq perished in a still mysterious plane crash in 1988. In Sri Lanka in 1959, Prime Minister S.W.R.D Bandaranaike fell victim to a fanatic Buddhist monk, the first of two generations of more than a half-dozen leading politicians to die in shootings and bombings. (Tamil Tiger rebels would later try but fail to kill Bandaranaike’s daughter, Chandrika Kumaratunga, when she was president.) Sheikh Mujibir Rahman, founder and first Prime Minister of independent Bangladesh, was murdered in 1975; in 1981 Bangladeshi President Ziaur Rahman, was shot in an army coup. Nepal’s entire royal family was wiped out in one evening in Kathmandu in 2001, apparently by a disaffected crown prince.

Hindus and Muslims killed one another by the hundreds of thousands after the partition of British India in 1947 into Pakistan and modern India. And compared with Pakistan since then, India has experienced much more large-scale sectarian and political violence, with thousands of Sikhs butchered in the streets of Delhi and elsewhere in North India after Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984, and up to 2,000 Muslims slaughtered by Hindu nationalists in Gujarat — Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace — in 2002. In both cases, political parties have been deeply implicated yet no political leader has been punished — in a democracy.

As the world mourns the loss of Benazir Bhutto, it would be myopic to focus only on Islamic-inspired violence and on Pakistan. This is a region with a turbulent post-independence political history. Our (Islamophobic?) preoccupation with Muslim terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan often blocks out a bigger picture. From end to end, South Asia is a region drenched in blood.

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OK, you guessed it – we feel that Barbara Croisette, who used to be a New York Times correspondent from the UN Headquarters in New York, she remembers the “stages of the INDIA cross” in this century. The clear punishment for the US and for the world is now a resulting situation with having on our hands a nuclear Pakistan aiming its nukes at a nuclear India, and really not giving a hoot about the US interests.

Musharaff is no moderate, he does not care about Al-Qaida as long as they keep away from his own person – just like the Saudis did not care when they could have done so.

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The New York Post might have a better insight to this story then most other papers – that is into what Washington wished about Pakistan and what it might get instead:

Excerpts from – THE BHUTTO ASSASSINATION: NOT WHAT SHE SEEMED TO BE
By RALPH PETERS, The New York Post, December 28, 2007.

FOR the next several days, you’re going to read and hear a great deal of pious nonsense in the wake of the assassination of Pakistan’s former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

Her country’s better off without her. She may serve Pakistan better after her death than she did in life.

In Pakistan, the military has its own forms of graft; nonetheless, it remains the least corrupt institution in the country and the only force holding an unnatural state together. In Pakistan back in the ’90s, the only people I met who cared a whit about the common man were military officers.

Americans don’t like to hear that. But it’s the truth.

Bhutto embodied the flaws in Pakistan’s political system, not its potential salvation. Both she and her principal rival, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, failed to offer a practical vision for the future – their political feuds were simply about who would divvy up the spoils.

From its founding, Pakistan has been plagued by cults of personality, by personal, feudal loyalties that stymied the development of healthy government institutions (provoking coups by a disgusted military). When she held the reins of government, Bhutto did nothing to steer in a new direction – she merely sought to enhance her personal power.

Now she’s dead. And she may finally render her country a genuine service (if cynical party hacks don’t try to blame Musharraf for their own benefit). After the inevitable rioting subsides and the spectacular conspiracy theories cool a bit, her murder may galvanize Pakistanis against the Islamist extremists who’ve never gained great support among voters, but who nonetheless threaten the state’s ability to govern.

As a victim of fanaticism, Bhutto may shine as a rallying symbol with a far purer light than she cast while alive. The bitter joke is that, while she was never serious about freedom, women’s rights and fighting terrorism, the terrorists took her rhetoric seriously – and killed her for her words, not her actions.

Nothing’s going to make Pakistan’s political crisis disappear – this crisis may be permanent, subject only to intermittent amelioration. (Our State Department’s policy toward Islamabad amounts to a pocket full of platitudes, nostalgia for the 20th century and a liberal version of the white man’s burden mindset.)

The one slim hope is that this savage murder will – in the long term – clarify their lot for Pakistan’s citizens. The old ways, the old personalities and old parties have failed them catastrophically. The country needs new leaders – who don’t think an election victory entitles them to grab what little remains of the national patrimony.

In killing Bhutto, the Islamists over-reached (possibly aided by rogue elements in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, one of the murkiest outfits on this earth). Just as al Qaeda in Iraq overplayed its hand and alienated that country’s Sunni Arabs, this assassination may disillusion Pakistanis who lent half an ear to Islamist rhetoric.

A creature of insatiable ambition, Bhutto will now become a martyr. In death, she may pay back some of the enormous debt she owes her country.

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www.SustainabiliTank.info summary:

1. Pakistan is an unnatural State – put together so there is a Moslem foot hold on the Indian Subcontinent.

2. The Army – for the better or for the worse – can be secular, and can be without corruption – just think of the history of Turkey. In effect the army can be a guarantor of democracy in a country that does not have it. Sounds strange – I know.

3. The Islamists may have indeed killed Bhutto as the last article believes. On the other hand it might also have been the Pakistani Intelligence that did this on Musharraf’s behalf – it really does not matter.

4. The country will benefit from Bhutto’s Martyrdom – they may waken up and try for honest change.

5. To obtain this change, upheaval may be welcome – though there must be complete accounting of the nuclear material.

6. The US requested from North Korea and from Iran nuclear accounting – the country where this is most needed now, and was most needed this last decade, is Pakistan. Will we hear anything on this line from the Bush Administration? One year is hell of a long time when the other side sits with his finger on nuclear triggers – not on the drawing board – but on India’s border.

7. Washington should not just back Musharraf because this is the easiest thing to do now. Rethinking the situation might require some time and one week in January is not enough time. Why not suggest a caretaker until the elections are held. It seems that all think the judges are the least tainted group. How about one Judge and one military man to manage for a month or two in tandem?

8.The Presidential candidates for the US November 2008 elections will prove not to be worth a second of the voters time if they do not address above point 6. No waxing anti Bush slogans will do now! The only acceptable stand is one of National unity under the clear requirement that the Pakistan nukes must be put under some sort of US system of checks, without further support for Musharaff if this does not come about. Otherwise, even if this means that Afghanistan is lost to the resurgent Al-Qaida – those candidates for US President do not show what it takes.

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New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination and a former
US ambassador to the United Nations, on Thursday already called on Washington to push for Gen Musharraf’s exit:
“President Bush should press Musharraf to step aside, and a broad-based coalition government, consisting of all
the democratic parties, should be formed immediately,” he said. “It is in the interests of the US that there be a
democratic Pakistan that relentlessly hunts down terrorists. Musharraf has failed, and his attempts to cling to
power are destabilising his country. He must go.”

Will above turn out to be the consensus among the Presidential candidates?
But the opinion in Europe is that Washington will stick with Musharraf.

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PS. The Bernard-Henry Levy Obituary to Benazir – as printed on the op-Ed page of the Wall Street Journal:

bhutto001.gif

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 15th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Ajay Makan writes from Male, Maldives, November 15, 2007, for Reuters:

Island States Urge UN to Study Rights, Climate Link.

Small island states (SIDS) called on the United Nations on Wednesday to assess whether a link exists between failure to tackle climate change, which threatens to wipe their countries off the map, and human rights.


But the 26 nations from around the globe failed to agree on an resolution backing a human rights agenda meant to take on big greenhouse gas polluters at a UN climate change summit in Bali, Indonesia next month.

The Maldives and other vocal island states blame the United States and other big polluters for climate change and say their inaction to curb greenhouse gas emissions will destroy their economies through rising seas and wild weather.

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) used the two-day meeting to highlight what it said was a human right “to live in a safe and sustaining environment”. It said “climate change directly and fundamentally undermines that right”.

But Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda were cautious, delegates said, that an explicit recognition of human rights would boost pressure on their own governments to improve political rights.

The Alliance represents 43 countries with a population of fewer than 15 million people, ranging from wealthy Singapore in Southeast Asia to Fiji, Kiribati and Tuvalu in the Pacific and Caribbean nations.

Alliance delegates will meet international lawyers and civil society groups to develop a common agenda ahead of the Bali summit, which aims to kick-off negotiations for global pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

Alliance Chair Angus Friday expressed optimism the group could still adopt a common platform at the Bali summit. He also hailed the resolution as a first step towards an international recognition of the link between climate change and human rights.

“We have to be realistic about the timescale, but we have started a process today,” he told reporters.

The resolution at the end of the meeting called for a UN study into linkages between human rights and climate change and a March 2009 debate at the UN Human Rights Council.

“The right to life as we know it is threatened. My people survive by praying,” Tuvalu’s ambassador to the UN told Reuters.

Delegates met at one of the Maldives’ flagship deluxe resorts, refurbished following the 2004 tsunami, a reminder of the country’s vulnerability to rising seas.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 2nd, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Asian Brown Clouds Intensify Global Warming.

SAN DIEGO, California, August 1, 2007 (ENS) – Brown clouds of pollution over South Asia have multiplied solar heating of the lower atmosphere by 50 percent, finds new research by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego.

Brown cloud over China (Photo courtesy NASA)

The combined heating effect of greenhouse gases and the brown clouds is necessary and sufficient to account for the retreat of Himalayan glaciers observed over the past 50 years, the researchers conclude. Led by Scripps atmospheric chemistry professor Veerabhadran Ramanathan, the team describes their findings in a paper to be published in the August 2 edition of the journal “Nature.”

Not entirely made up of water vapor like regular clouds, brown clouds contain soot, sulfates, nitrates, hundreds of organic compounds, and fly ash from urban, industrial and agricultural sources.

“The conventional thinking is that brown clouds have masked as much as 50 percent of the global warming by greenhouse gases through the so-called global dimming,” said Dr. Ramanathan.

“While this is true globally,” he said, “this study reveals that over southern and eastern Asia, the soot particles in the brown clouds are intensifying the atmospheric warming trend caused by greenhouse gases by as much as 50 percent.”



The Himalayan glaciers feed the major Asian rivers – the Yangtze, the Ganges and the Indus – that supply water to billions of people in China, India and across southeast Asia. “The rapid melting of these glaciers, the third-largest ice mass on the planet, if it becomes widespread and continues for several more decades, will have unprecedented downstream effects on southern and eastern Asia,” the authors warn.

“Ramanathan and colleagues, for the first time ever, used small and inexpensive unmanned aircraft and their miniaturized instruments as a creative means of simultaneously sampling of clouds, aerosols and radiative fluxes in polluted environments, from within and from all sides of the clouds,” said Jay Fein, program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Atmospheric Sciences.

The aircraft, flying in stacked formations over the Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, measured the brown clouds from different altitudes, creating a profile of soot concentrations and light absorption unprecedented in its level of vertical detail.

The flights took place in March 2006 during the region’s dry season when air masses, loaded with industrial and vehicle emissions and pollution from biomass burning, travel south from the continent to the Indian Ocean.

Unmanned aircraft used by Ramanathan and his team to take measurements in brown clouds (Photo courtesy NOAA)

“These measurements, combined with routine environmental observations and a state-of-the science model, led to these remarkable results,” said Fein. When the researchers fed both greenhouse gas and brown cloud data into computer climate models, they found that the region’s atmosphere has warmed 0.25 degrees Celsius (0.5 degrees F) per decade since 1950 at altitudes ranging from two to five kilometers (6,500 to 16,500 feet) above sea level – the same altitude where the Himalayan glaciers lie.

The analysis showed that the brown cloud effect is necessary to explain temperature changes that have been observed in the region over the last 50 years.

It also indicates that south Asia’s warming trend is more pronounced at higher altitudes than closer to sea level.

Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme which helped support the research, said, “The main cause of climate change is the buildup of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels. But brown clouds, whose environmental and economic impacts are beginning to be unraveled by scientists, are complicating and in some cases aggravating their effects.”

Steiner hopes the Scripps’ research will spur the international community to take urgent action to limit global warming, in particular at the next crucial UN climate change convention in Indonesia this December. This conference is expected to negotiate a global successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

By burning less fossil fuels, South Asia may be able to arrest the glaciers’ retreat and reduce regional air pollution at the same time.

Steiner said, “It is likely that in curbing greenhouse gases we can tackle the twin challenges of climate change and brown clouds and in doing so, reap wider benefits from reduced air pollution to improved agricultural yields.”

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