[Mb-civic] Hurricanes and globalwarming....AND "When rabbits get a
ean at sbcglobal.net
ean at sbcglobal.net
Thu Sep 16 17:16:20 PDT 2004
I've been listening to all the hurricane news the last month and waiting for someone
to mention global warming--which has been predicted to, among many other things,
increase the frequency and strength of hurricanes and other violent weather. Except
on Democracy Now! I heard nothing--not even on good ol' NPR. So here is an
article about thatto share with you....followed by a very disturbing and truth-telling
essay about Osama bin Laden and the U.S.A..... (thanks Ed!)
I don't know how many of you on my lists read these things and how many just delete
them. I encourage today a bit of feed back (just hit reply and type "this is good
stuff!" or "this is ridiculous--take me off your #!%$! list!" or whatever..) --mha atma
Wired News - Sept 15, 2004
Ivan May Just Be a Messenger
By Stephen Leahy
Hurricane Ivan is among the most powerful Atlantic storms in recent
history, and more such storms are likely in the future due to global
warming, say climate experts.
"Global warming is creating conditions that (are) more favorable for
hurricanes to develop and be more severe," said Kevin Trenberth,
head of the climate analysis section at the National Center for
Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
While few climate and hurricane experts are willing to go that far
publicly, there is little debate that the Earth is retaining more of the
sun's energy than in the past. Emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide
act as an extra blanket that keeps some of the sun's energy from
dissipating into space. The extra energy from this "greenhouse effect" has
already warmed the Earth by about 1 degree Fahrenheit, according to the
2001 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report
is based on evidence and research from more than 2,500 scientists from
about 100 countries.
Hurricanes need warm water, and the oceans are heating up, as evidenced by
the 1 1/4-inch rise in global sea levels over the past 10 years, said
Trenberth. The additional heat is causing most of this sea level rise
because of thermal expansion -- just as a very full pot of water heated on
a stove will spill over.
While the warming of the oceans isn't uniform -- the north Pacific and
north Atlantic are a bit cooler over the past 10 years -- the
hurricane-producing mid- Atlantic and Caribbean oceans are warmer and,
most important, there is more water vapor in the air.
Water vapor or moisture in the air is the high-octane fuel of hurricanes.
Oceans need to be 80 degrees Fahrenheit or more to produce enough water
vapor for a hurricane to get started. New research by Trenberth's group
has found that water-vapor levels are now 15 percent higher on average in
the hurricane zone than they were 20 or 30 years ago.
Will that result in more Category 4 or 5 storms? "That's the logical
conclusion, although it may be somewhat controversial," Trenberth said.
Before it struck Cuba a glancing blow, Ivan was a Category 5 on the
Saffir-Simpson scale, which rates hurricanes from one to five according to
wind speeds and destructive potential. Category 5 hurricanes have winds
that blow continuously above 155 mph. Ivan's gusts topped 200 mph at
times, and it is considered the sixth most powerful hurricane on record
for the Atlantic Basin.
Hurricanes need exactly the right conditions to form, and warm water and
high water-vapor levels are just two of the ingredients, said David
Battisti, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington.
However, global warming is greatly increasing the odds in favor of more
intense and more frequent hurricanes and cyclones, Battisti said. Where
these storms will appear is very difficult to predict. Traditional
hurricane zones may not see any increase while countries that have never
experienced them will, he said.
Brazil was struck by the first-ever hurricane in the south Atlantic last
March, while the Atlantic coast of Canada got smacked by the storm of the
century, Hurricane Juan, late last year. While these may be flukes, the
Canadian government suspects global warming and is worried about the
"What is certain, the Earth is trapping more energy and that energy must
be dissipated," Battisti said.
Largely unnoticed in the attention focused on hurricanes is the record
number of tornadoes the United States has experienced this year. The
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency says a record 173 tornadoes
were reported in the month of August, 47 more than the previous record,
set in 1979. Iowa has already experienced a record high of 110 tornadoes
this year, when its 30-year average is just 45.
As for thunderstorms, "the evidence is very strong that their frequency
and intensity has increased in the U.S.," said Trenberth.
The changing ocean and atmospheric conditions due to global warming are
also making historical weather cycles or patterns less useful in helping
to do long- range climate forecasts, said Battisti. "In 50 years,
conditions will be so different they will overwhelm these historical
Wednesday 15 September 2004
When the rabbits get a gun
By William Rivers Pitt
This is the comforting fiction: Osama bin Laden is a monster who sprang
whole from the fetid mire. He had no childhood, no influences, no
education, no experiences to form his view of the world. He did not exist,
and then he did, a vessel into which the universe poured the essence of
evil. It is a simple, straightforward story of a man who hates freedom and
kills for the pure joy of feeling innocent blood drip from his fingers.
This is the fairy tale by which children are put to bed at night. As
frightening and terrifying as bin Laden may be, it is a comfort to imagine
him as having been chiseled from the dust. The fiction of his existence,
absent of detail, makes him unique, a singular entity not to be
replicated. Osama bin Laden becomes truly scary only when the actual
context of his life is made clear, where he is from, what he has seen, and
why those things motivated him to do what he does.
Osama bin Laden becomes truly scary when the realization comes that he is
not unique, not singular, not an invention of the universe. He becomes
truly scary when the realization comes that there are millions of people
who have seen what he has seen, who feel what he feels, and why. He
becomes truly scary when the realization comes that he is a creation of
the last fifty years of American foreign and economic policy, and that he
has an army behind him created by the same influences. Simply, Osama bin
Laden becomes truly scary when the realization comes that he can be, and
has been, and continues to be, replicated.
Osama bin Laden, after being educated at Oxford University, learned
how to kill effectively while working as an agent of American Cold War
policy in Afghanistan. He was a helpful American ally throughout the 1980s
as a ruthless and wealthy warrior against the Soviet Union. It was the
desire of the American government to deliver to the Soviets their own
Vietnam, to arrange a hopeless military situation which would demoralize
the Soviet military and bleed that nation dry.
Osama bin Laden played the part of the Viet Cong, and he was good at it.
With the help of the American government, he was able to create an army of
true believers in Afghanistan. Our government believed that if one bin
Laden was good, a hundred would be better, and a thousand better again, in
the fight against the Soviets. So strong was this group America helped to
create that it became known as 'The Base.' Translated into the local
dialect, 'The Base' is known as al Qaeda.
Osama bin Laden learned something else besides the art of killing while he
was working as an ally of the United States. He learned that given enough
time, enough money, enough violence, enough perseverance, and enough
fellow warriors, a superpower can be brought to its knees and erased from
the book of history.
Bin Laden was at the center of one of the most important events of the
20th century: The fall of the Soviet Union. Political pundits like to
credit Reagan and the senior Bush for the collapse of that regime, but out
in front of them, in the mountains of Afghanistan, was Osama bin Laden and
al Qaeda, the sharp end of our sword, who did their job very well. Today,
the United States faces this group and its leader, armed with their well-
learned and America-taught lessons: How to kill massively and how to
annihilate a superpower.
Osama bin Laden learned a few other things before he became the monster
under our collective bed. When Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein began to make
his move against Kuwait, bin Laden was outraged. Hussein was a despised
name on the lips of bin Laden and his followers; here was an unbelieving
heretic who spoke the words of Allah, a self-styled Socialist who
pretended piety, a ruthless dictator who killed every Islamic
fundamentalist he could get his hands on.
Osama bin Laden went to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, home of the holiest
sites of Islam. The royal family was not to be found anywhere on bin
Laden's list of friends at the time. A shrewd observer of local politics,
bin Laden knew that the Saudi government enjoyed having the Palestinians
living in squalor, bereft of homeland and hope, because it distracted the
fundamentalists within Saudi Arabia from focusing on the inequities within
their own country. With the crooking of a single oil-rich finger, the
Saudi royals could solve the Palestinian problem. Their refusal to do so
fed bin Laden's rage, for in his mind, they were aiding and abetting what
he saw as an intolerable Israeli apartheid.
Bin Laden asked Fahd to help him resurrect the army that fought with him
against the Soviets so that he could fight Saddam Hussein. Here again is
an irony of the times: As in the 1980s, Osama bin Laden was spoiling for a
fight against an enemy of the United States - for his own purposes, to be
sure, but it is difficult to avoid a shake of the head when considering
all of the recent rhetoric about a Saddam/Osama alliance.
Fahd turned bin Laden down, and allowed the American military to set up
bases in Saudi Arabia for use in what became known as Operation Desert
Storm. According to the version of Islam practiced by bin Laden, it is
rank heresy to allow soldiers from an infidel army to occupy the land of
Mecca and Medina. Bin Laden learned from this that regimes in the Middle
East which claim fealty to Islam, but which in fact act at the behest of
the Unites States, were not to be trusted. The royal family of Saudi
Arabia joined the list of bin Laden's enemies, along with the United
States, Saddam Hussein, and Israel.
It was Israel, proxy of the Unites States, which taught Osama bin Laden
what could be considered the final, irrevocable lesson of his life. In
April 1996, Israel began a military action against Beirut and southern
Lebanon called Operation Grapes of Wrath. "It is quite obvious," wrote
Israeli writer Israel Shahak at the time, "that the first and most
important Israeli aim to be established in the 'Grapes of Wrath' is to
establish its sovereignty over Lebanon - to be exercised in a comparable
manner to its control over the Gaza Strip."
On April 13, an ambulance driver named Abbas Jiha was rushing patients to
a hospital in Sidon. Civilians caught in the crossfire of 'Grapes of
Wrath' begged him to take them to Sidon, and so he squeezed his wife, his
four children and ten others into his ambulance. An Israeli helicopter
targeted his ambulance and fired two missiles. The ambulance was blasted
sixty feet into the air, and Jiha was thrown clear. When he made it back
to the remains of his rig, he found his nine year old daughter, his wife,
and four others dead within the flaming wreckage.
On April 18, the small village of Qana was flooded with some 800 refugees
from the fighting who were seeking protection from UN forces there. At
about two in the afternoon, the village came under bombardment by Israeli
'proximity shells' - antipersonnel weapons which explode several meters
above the ground and shower anyone below with razor-sharp shrapnel. The
result was a massacre, a blood-drenched scene of shredded humanity.
Robert Fisk, the most decorated and reputable journalist in Britain, was
there. "It was a massacre," he wrote. "Israel's slaughter of civilians in
this 10-day offensive - 206 by last night - has been so cavalier, so
ferocious, that not a Lebanese will forgive this massacre. There had been
the ambulance attacked on Saturday, the sisters killed in Yohmor the day
before, the 2-year-old girl decapitated by an Israeli missile four days
ago. And earlier yesterday, the Israelis had slaughtered a family of 12 -
the youngest was a four-day-old baby - when Israeli helicopter pilots
fired missiles into their home."
These stories barely made a dent in the American press in 1996, but were
widely reported at length by both European and Middle Eastern media
outlets. Photographs of headless babies and slaughtered civilians reached
far and wide, inflaming a region already filled with rage against Israel
and America. From this time on, Osama bin Laden used Qana as a rallying
cry against what he called the Israeli-United States alliance. The rest,
as they say, is history.
Osama bin Laden is a damned murderer of innocents, with thousands of
notches in his belt. His actions are indefensible by any measure. Yet to
dismiss him as something other than the creation of his experiences, to
categorize him as some unique freak whose motivations are beyond
comprehension, is to deny the most important dilemma that faces our world.
Monsters are not born. They are made.
On Sunday, September 12, 2004, a large crowd of Iraqi civilians came
under fire from U.S. attack helicopters on Haifa Street in Baghdad. An
American Bradley Fighting Vehicle had been attacked and destroyed by
'insurgents' fighting the ongoing occupation of their country, and the
civilians- after more than a year of deprivation and violence which came
on the heels of a decade of deprivation and violence - were dancing on top
of and beside the vehicle. 13 of them were killed and dozens more wounded.
A reporter from the UK Guardian named Ghaith Abdul-Ahad was there, and was
wounded in the attack.
"One of the three men piled together," wrote Abdul-Ahad, "raised his head
and looked around the empty streets with a look of astonishment on his
face. He then looked at the boy in front of him, turned to the back and
looked at the horizon again. Then he slowly started moving his head to the
ground, rested his head on his arms and stretched his hands towards
something that he could see. It was the guy who had been beating his chest
earlier, trying to help his brother. He wanted help but no one helped. He
was just there dying in front of me. Time didn't exist. The streets were
empty and silent and the men lay there dying together. He slid down to the
ground, and after five minutes was flat on the street."
The survivors of this attack, like the survivors of Qana, were probably
not terrorists before the fire came raining down. It is a safe bet they
are now, after seeing what they have seen, willing to trade their lives to
see Americans die. They have seen the massacre of civilians, and so
believe that civilians are fair game in this dirtiest of wars. They are
monsters now, not born, but made.
The story of the 20th century Middle East is one of American action. We
created Saddam Hussein, and then twice attacked him, leaving nearly two
million civilians dead in the process. We created the kingdom of Saudi
Arabia, and bent our policies towards defending that house of cards and
its precious oil. We created the Shah of Iran, then lost him, and propped
up Hussein to checkmate our failure. We created Israel, a nation that has
become our front line against the hostilities we manufactured in the
region through our relentless military and economic meddling, and
supported them militarily and financially as they committed acts of
barbarism. We have paid great lip service to the plight of the
Palestinians, but have always deferred to Israel.
More recently, we invaded Iraq on the pretext of destroying weapons of
mass destruction which, according to recent comments by Secretary of State
Powell, do not actually exist. We accused Saddam Hussein of collaborating
with bin Laden, and of being involved in 9/11, despite the fact that bin
Laden has wanted Hussein dead for years. We killed over 10,000 Iraqi
civilians. We raped and tortured Iraqi men, women and children in the
dungeons of Abu Ghraib. All of our poor history in the region has been
distilled into that one nation, a place that now manufactures bin Laden
allies by the truckload.
We created Osama bin Laden. We taught him to kill, we showed him how
to destroy a superpower, and we gave him a face-first lesson in American
interventionism in his back yard. Whatever predispositions towards
violence and murder existed in him when he was born became honed, refined
and perfected as he watched our government storm the policies, rulers and
innocent people of the Middle East like so many rabbits. We have created
millions more like him.
We are learning now that the game isn't much fun when the rabbits get a
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Action is the antidote to despair. ----Joan Baez
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