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5 Most Popular Recent Articles

Russian family commits suicide after being denied asylum in UK PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve James   
Monday, 15 March 2010 04:40

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Neighbours heard screams as Sergei Serykh, his wife Tatiana and their 21-year-old son fell from the 15th floor of a Glasgow tower block at 8:45 a.m. last Sunday morning. Their bodies hit the ground, alongside a wardrobe they used to break through netting on the landing from which they jumped. All three were killed instantly.

The family had recently been told by the UK Borders Agency (UKBA) their asylum claim had been rejected. They had been asked to leave their high rise accommodation in the city’s Red Road flats. Facing deportation or, at the very least, destitution consequent to failure to make it through the UK’s asylum machinery, the family concluded that their situation was beyond hope.

The deaths elicited a display of public sympathy. A vigil was held at the foot of the tower block in the city’s Springburn district, attended by over 100 people including local residents, current and former asylum seekers and civil rights campaigners. Among those attending was ten-year-old Precious Mhango. Precious and her mother Florence have recently won the right to a judicial review of the UKBA’s decision to deport them to Malawi.

IPCC errors: facts and spin PDF Print E-mail
Written by RealClimate   
Friday, 12 March 2010 01:24

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IPCCCurrently, a few errors –and supposed errors– in the last IPCC report (“AR4?) are making the media rounds – together with a lot of distortion and professional spin by parties interested in discrediting climate science.  Time for us to sort the wheat from the chaff: which of these putative errors are real, and which not? And what does it all mean, for the IPCC in particular, and for climate science more broadly?

Let’s start with a few basic facts about the IPCC.  The IPCC is not, as many people seem to think, a large organization. In fact, it has only 10 full-time staff in its secretariat at the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva, plus a few staff in four technical support units that help the chairs of the three IPCC working groups and the national greenhouse gas inventories group. The actual work of the IPCC is done by unpaid volunteers – thousands of scientists at universities and research institutes around the world who contribute as authors or reviewers to the completion of the IPCC reports. A large fraction of the relevant scientific community is thus involved in the effort.  The three working groups are:

Working Group 1 (WG1), which deals with the physical climate science basis, as assessed by the climatologists, including several of the Realclimate authors.

Working Group 2 (WG2), which deals with impacts of climate change on society and ecosystems, as assessed by social scientists, ecologists, etc.

Working Group 3 (WG3) , which deals with mitigation options for limiting global warming, as assessed by energy experts, economists, etc.

Assessment reports are published every six or seven years and writing them takes about three years. Each working group publishes one of the three volumes of each assessment. The focus of the recent allegations is the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), which was published in 2007.  Its three volumes are almost a thousand pages each, in small print. They were written by over 450 lead authors and 800 contributing authors; most were not previous IPCC authors. There are three stages of review involving more than 2,500 expert reviewers who collectively submitted 90,000 review comments on the drafts. These, together with the authors’ responses to them, are all in the public record (see here and here for WG1 and WG2 respectively).

Laos: Clusters of Death PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mennonite Central Committee   
Thursday, 11 March 2010 16:48

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The Air War

Bounpheng and familyFrom 1964 to 1973, Laos endured one of the most intensive bombing campaigns in history, as the US attempted to destroy the social and economic infrastructure of the Pathet Lao communist forces. Part of the larger war in Indochina, the US bombing attempted to block the flow of supplies over the Ho chi Minh trail which went through southern Laos. In addition, the US bombed northern Laos in support of Royal Lao Government military campaigns.

During the war, the US dropped over 6 million conventional bombs and likely well over a 100 million cluster bomblets.[1] The 580,000 bombing missions flown over Laos equaled one bombing mission every eight minutes ‘round the clock, for nine full years. In Xieng Khouang Province, one of the most heavily bombed areas, an estimated 300,000 tons of bombs were dropped, equaling more than two tons per inhabitant. A 1971 US Information Service refugee survey found that at least 80% of the victims were civilians.[2]

Because of the air war, many Lao villagers fled to the larger cities where they lived in refugee camps. A significant number, however, stayed near their villages, living in caves and forests in order to escape the bombing. Many of these villagers lived in caves for years, doing their field work under cover of darkness, and hiding their cooking fires so they would not be seen by the bombers. Villagers in Xieng Khouang repeatedly assert that the air war did not distinguish between military and civilian targets, and that any sign of life or activity risked an attack by the bombers.[3]

Book Excerpt from The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism PDF Print E-mail
Written by AK Press   
Wednesday, 10 March 2010 00:37

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Our most recent book back from the printer is Barry Sanders’s The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism. It’s a detailed examination of the environmental impact of US military practices—which identifies those practices, from fuel emissions to radioactive waste to defoliation campaigns, as the single-greatest contributor to the worldwide environmental crisis. We think it’s a powerful book, especially considering the fact that the Obama regime’s efforts to save capitalism through new, “ecological” modes of production—disingenuous and doomed as they are—won’t even begin to address the environmental and climactic havoc wreaked by the planet’s most destructive enemy: the US military.

Below is a short excerpt from Barry’s Introduction…

* * *

Over the years, my family has bought three or four little books on how to lead the greenest life possible. We’ve all seen those well-intentioned pamphlets at the checkout counters of bookstores and grocery stores: Fifty Ways to Save the Planet; Going Totally Green; Making a Difference; and so on. While they may pale these days considering the enormity of the environmental crisis, we nonetheless still take the advice to heart, choosing low-energy light bulbs, installing low-flush toilets, turning down the thermostat, refusing to warm up the car’s engine for extended periods, and on and on. Every little bit helps, as the experts tell us, and, besides, we need to feel that we are doing something. But no list in any of those books addresses the largest single source of pollution in this country and in the world: the United States military—in particular, the military in its most ferocious and stepped-up mode—namely, the military at war.

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