With an estimated death toll now set at more than 70,000 and still rising, the combined earthquake and tidal wave served as a reminder that Nature can be extremely dangerous
THE DEATH TOLL FROM THE TSUNAMI PASSES 76,000
The tidal wave that moved at an estimated 500 miles an hour across the Indian Ocean has already resulted in 20 times the deaths of the attack on the World Trade Center, and it has demonstrated the destructive potential of nature.
(Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post, December 29, 2004)
Amateur and Independent Video of the tidal wave striking (PBS NewsHour, December 27, 2004)
BLOGS ON THE TSUNAMI
Some of the most vivid reporting came over the Internet. (Times of India, December 27, 2004)
WHAT ABOUT THE EVEN GREATER LOOMING DANGER OF CLIMATE CHANGE?
Juan Cole points out that while earthquakes and tidal waves are beyond human control, the tsunami disaster is likely to increase interest in the burgeoning the debate over Global Climate Change. Up to now, the Bush administration has done everything possible to ignore the Kyoto protocol and the growing international concern over the CO2 level in the atmosphere. Despite the unconcerned attitude in the White House, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now at the highest level in nearly 400,000 years. Coincidentally the insurance costs of natural disasters have been increasing dramatically. (Juan Cole, Informed Comment, December 27, 2004)
WHY WORRY ABOUT THE CLIMATE?
Implications of Abrupt Climate Change on U.S. National Security The October 2003 report, originally commissioned by the Pentagon, and researched by the Global Business Network's Peter Schwarz and Doug Randall cautions that a shut down of the Gulf Stream could trigger a new ice age in Europe, and there are precedents, although the last time it happened was 8,500 years ago.
-Columbia University's two-day conference on Global Climate Change gathered some of the major experts in the field. Transcripts and video available.
-Arctic Climate Impact Assessment
Arctic (Climate) Monitoring and Assessment Program Report
-Index to recent reports on the dangers from abrupt climate change
-Concern about Gulf Stream Shut Down
UKRAINE: YANUKOVICH OFFERS TOKEN RESISTANCE AND THEN OPPOSITION STATUS
Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych will put up a symbolic legal fight against Viktor Yushchenko's victory and then turn his attention to becoming an opposition leader, Yanukovych's campaign director, Taras Chernovil, said in an interview Tuesday. (Greg Walters, Moscow Times, December 29, 2004)
IRAQ: OSAMA BIN LADEN NAMES AL ZARQAWI AS HEAD OF AL QAEDA IN IRAQ AND DENOUNCES ELECTIONS
"In the balance of Islam," says Bin Laden in a tape delivered to Al Jazeera on Monday, "this constitution is infidel and therefore everyone who participates in this election will be considered an infidel...Beware of henchmen who speak in the name of Islamic parties and groups who urge people to participate in the elections..."
(Al Jazeera, December 27, 2004)
U.N. MEMO ON UPCOMING IRAQI ELECTIONS SEES NUMEROUS PITFALLS
An inability to protect warehouses holding ballots, or election officials, and insufficient time to inform Iraqis about the process or the candidates, is likely to undercut the election's credibility (Annia Ciezadio, Christian Monitor, December 27, 2004)
INTERNATIONAL MONITORS PLAN A LONG DISTANCE ASSESSMENT OF THE IRAQI ELECTIONS
Iraq is considered too dangerous for international monitors to watch the vote in Iraq. Instead, the monitors will "assess" the fairness of the vote from a luxury hotel in Amman, Jordan. (Joel Brinkley, New York Times, December 22, 2004)
MILITARY HISTORIAN NOTES THAT U.S. NEVER HAD A COHERENT PLAN FOR PHASE IV OF THE IRAQI OCCUPATION
U.S. Army historian, Major Isaiah Wilson III, concludes that the U.S. military invaded Iraq without a formal plan for occupying and stabilizing the country and this high-level failure continues to undercut what has been a 'mediocre' Army effort there... (Thomas Ricks, Washington Post, December 25, 2004)
HOW ABOUT A PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE AGAINST IRAN?
The Weekly Standard's Reuel Marc Gerecht assesses the current problems in Iraq, and still concludes that the U.S. may need a preemptive strike against Iran to forestall that country's nuclear ambitions. (Reuel Marc Gerecht, Weekly Standard, January 3-10, 2004)
NUCLEAR TRAFFICKING BY PAKISTAN'S A.Q. KHAN TURNS OUT TO BE MORE ELABORATE THAN ORIGINALLY THOUGHT
Blue prints that showed up in Libya for a 10-kiloton nuclear bomb were little more than a deal sweetener for A.Q. Khan's sale of $100 million in nuclear hardware, and that was only the beginning... (William Broad and David Sanger, New York Times, December 26, 2004)
IRAQ EXIT PLAN
The International Crisis Group notes that in Iraq, the U.S. is engaged in a war it already may have lost while losing sight of a struggle in which it still may have time to prevail. Its initial objective was to turn Iraq into a model for the region: a democratic, secular and free-market oriented government, sympathetic to U.S. interests, not openly hostile toward Israel, and possibly home to long-term American military bases. But hostility toward the U.S. and suspicion of its intentions among large numbers of Iraqis have progressed so far that this is virtually out of reach. More than that, the pursuit has become an obstacle to realization of the most essential, achievable goal -- a stable government viewed by its people as credible, representative and the embodiment of national interests as well as capable of addressing their basic needs..."
(ICG, December 22, 2004)
RUSSIA GAINS FROM IRAN'S OIL DEAL WITH ARMENIA
Iran has moved closer to gaining a strategic foothold in Caucasian energy markets with the start of work on a gas pipeline to Armenia that has been heralded by Yerevan as bringing "definite changes in the region." The project has the potential to undercut Russia's control of Armenia's energy supply, yet two new gas projects could act as potential deal sweeteners for this longtime Armenian ally. Plans were recently announced for an increase in Armenian orders for Russian gas and a possible role in the Iranian pipeline project for Russian energy giant Gazprom. Construction on Armenia's section of the 142-kilometer gas pipeline began on November 30, with $30 million in costs for the 42-kilometer strip from the Armenian border town of Agarak to Kajaran, south of Yerevan, picked up by the Iranian Export and Development Bank.
(Eurasianet.org, December 21, 2004)
Iraqi bystander throws stones at U.S. truck burning after the explosion of a roadside bomb
DOUG IRELAND IN L.A. WEEKLY ON U.S. PRESS COVERAGE OF IRAQ
"If you want to know why public opinion in Western Europe has been so overwhelmingly against the U.S. war in and occupation of Iraq," writes Ireland. "There’s one obvious answer: the difference in television news between theirs and ours. You can easily determine this for yourself: Spend a week watching the news broadcasts and TV magazines of the BBC, France2 and Deutsche Welle, all available on many U.S. cable systems. The footage of dead Iraqi babies and children — victims of U.S. attacks on "terrorists" — that you will regularly see on European public television is rarely aired on U.S. networks. The regular interviews in Iraqi hospitals with doctors recounting the slaughter of the innocents that show up on European news broadcasts aren’t often seen on the all-news cable networks here, let alone on the Big Three broadcast nets’ newscasts. Iraqis, of course, know this daily reality all too well — which explains their overwhelming hostility to the U.S. occupation.
An on-the-ground study of Iraqi casualties between April and September by Nancy Youssef of Knight Ridder newspapers demonstrated that "Operations by U.S. and multinational forces and Iraqi police are killing twice as many Iraqis — most of them civilians — as attacks by insurgents." But you’re not told this by U.S. TV’s "embedded" reporters, who’ve traded their reportorial independence for access to the boom-boom footage that drives what Time magazine has labeled the "militainment" proffered by American television. In fact, embedded reporters are enrolled in what the Pentagon calls "information operations" — a counterpart to military operations designed to exact the rosiest possible picture of the U.S. occupation from accredited reporters. Those who don’t toe the Pentagon line, and who report negatively on the occupation of Iraq and the indiscriminate effects of U.S. forces’ combat there, are simply blacklisted.
The demagogic nationalism of Fox News, the ratings king, has dragged the other networks down to its level as they seek to win back lost viewers. In a must-read article on "Iraq, the Press and the Election" in the December 16 issue of The New York Review of Books (available online at www.nybooks.com), the Columbia Journalism Review’s Michael Massing dissects U.S. media coverage of Iraq with devastating effect. CNN, for example, he portrays as "careening wildly between an adherence to traditional news values on the one hand and a surrender to the titillating, overheated, nationalistic fare of contemporary cable on the other. In the end, CNN . . . offered the superficiality of Fox without any of its conviction." (Doug Ireland, L.A. Weekly, December 24-30, 2004)
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