By Robert Fisk 29th September 2012.
Israeli President “Bibi” Netanyahu on Guy Fawkes. The super-terrorist plans to blow up parliament and the King; the very nation will be liquidated. Fawkes was a Catholic rather than a Muslim – though Renaissance Europe was pretty good at bestialising both – but what a cartoon! I loved the curly fuse and the “flashy” bit on the end – Dan Dare versus The Mekon – and the red line drawn on the black line. It was all oh-so-convincing. Ninety per cent convincing.
Not since the last set of cartoons flourished in the UN Donkey House has the world been so gobsmacked. Then it was Colin Powell (I was in the Security Council chamber as a witness to this nonsense in 2003) who displayed his own cartoon of white-coated Iraqi chemists making weapons of mass destruction in a mobile laboratory. It was a railway train, for heaven’s sake. And, unlike Bibi’s bomb and fuse, it was actually meant to be a railway train. Cartoons, you see, can be taken literally or metaphorically. Or just plain insult the intelligence of ordinary folk; like Bibi’s – or cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed, for that matter. They all go “BANG” in the end. And I can see why Israel’s sorrowful defenders had to trash Bibi’s cartoon yesterday. Sure, it was awful – but the MESSAGE, that was the thing. Don’t let the cartoon distract you from the truth (albeit that cartoons are supposed to contain an inner truth, are they not?) and the truth according to Bibi was that Iran could have a nuclear bomb “BY THE MIDDLE OF NEXT YEAR”.
But whoops! Here’s a little downgrading for the reader. “Iran is the centre of terrorism, fundamentalism and subversion and is … more dangerous than Nazism, because Hitler did not possess a nuclear bomb …” Bibi speaking on Thursday? Nope. The ex-Prime Minister of Israel, Shimon Peres, in 1996. And – I’m indebted here to the indispensable Roger Cohen – Peres himself said in 1992 that Iran would have a nuclear bomb by 1999! That’s 13 years ago. And Ehud Barak – now Bibi’s Defence Minister – said in 1996 that Iran would have a nuke by 2004. That’s eight years ago. Maybe cartoons are all that’s left.
Of course, the think-tank loonies waffled on the networks, grinning idiotically over the cartoon but nodding sagely at Netanyahu’s warning – without bothering to recall those utterly false warnings in the past. You can’t cry wolf when the wolf is called Ahmadinejad.
Bloomberg’s columnist, Lisa Beyer, remarked that Netanyahu had noted “rightly, that Israel’s intelligence agencies are superb”. They are not. Israel’s intelligence on Lebanon has been pitiful for two decades, and it was these same “agencies” who assured Powell back in 2003 that Iraq did indeed have weapons of mass destruction. Later, we somehow forgot that little bit of false Israeli “intelligence” input.
Of course, the cartoon managed to distract us from the dignified speech by the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, whose condemnation of Israel’s land theft in the West Bank was infinitely more accurate than Netanyahu’s artwork. But Abbas spoke in Arabic, Netanyahu in American English. Only one man was going to be on the world’s screens yesterday. He did seem oddly hot under the collar about the UN’s almost-forgotten report on Israel’s cruelty during the 2008-9 Gaza war, when Israel’s “surgical strikes” – this is Bibi-speak – killed 1,300 Palestinians, most of them civilians. For a man obsessed with statistics, this one escaped Netanyahu’s memory.
But there you go. Iran is a dodgy place. Ahmadinejad is a crackpot, though he came across, in his new “moody” grey specs, as a bit more laid back than Bibi. Of course Iran’s going to have a nuke. Saddam was making one, too. Wasn’t he?
By Steve Bell 27th September 2012.
What happens when you point the Hubble Space Telescope to a seemingly blank patch of sky?
A view that takes you to the edge of the universe! Amazing…
By Tracy McVeigh 29th September 2012.
As saboteurs mobilise and signatures on the e-petition of rock star Brian May soar, tensions are running high over plans to eradicate bovine TB in a shooting campaign – a policy which a government adviser has branded ‘crazy’.
Wet noses are leaving trails on his fleece, cows snuffling on one sleeve and Stig the border collie on the other. Ankle-deep in mud on his beef cattle farm near Stratford-upon-Avon, Adam Quinney doesn’t hunt, fish or shoot and shakes his head at the idea he is fired up with “bloodlust”. He lost 18 of his 70 cattle a year ago, one of the 24% of farms in the southwest of England to find their herds infected with bovine TB, a disease which not only costs stock but also puts the whole farm into shutdown, escalating costs just as income dives.
He has heard all the arguments, read the science, personally debated with rock guitarist Brian May, and accepts many of the points put forward by the badger lobby: “We shouldn’t have got to this point; we should have culled years ago and we wouldn’t have TB. We all want the same thing in the end, healthy cattle and healthy badgers. But this polarisation is worrying. A lot of people have no knowledge and no understanding and they’re getting fired up.
“We’ve had the activists talking about coming on with fireworks and dogs, but if they scare the badgers, will they return to their setts or move on? They could be walking through badger latrines carrying the TB themselves. What about bio-security?”
As vice-president of the National Farmers Union, Quinney helped set the boundaries for the Gloucestershire pilot cull area, which was given its licence last Monday. He sees a cull as only part of the solution. The lack of an organised plan to tackle bovine TB is what the majority of farmers are fed up with, he says.
“We need a complete programme, not a pick and mix. Farmers were promised a vaccine. Each year for 20 years we have been told there is a vaccine just a few years away and have been sold a pup. We shouldn’t have got to this point. Bovine TB is hardly a new disease.”
Last year he invited volunteers from the Badger Trust on to his land and for four weeks they tried to trap and vaccinate badgers against TB. They managed to vaccinate just one of them. “I felt desperately sorry for them – they were out every night,” Quinney says. “I can’t even estimate the effort and money they put in and was disappointed on their behalf as much as mine.
By Zoe Holman 27th September 2012.
Researchers on 70,000-mile voyage to investigate climate change say effect of humans is now ‘truly planetary’.
The first traces of plastic debris have been found in what was thought to be the pristine environment of the Southern Ocean, according to a study released in London by the French scientific research vessel Tara.
The finding comes following a two-and-a-half-year, 70,000-mile voyage by the schooner across the Atlantic, Pacific, Antarctic and Indian Oceans, to investigate marine ecosystems and biodiversity under climate change.
“We had always assumed that this was a pristine environment, very little touched by human beings,” said Chris Bowler, scientific co-ordinator of Tara Oceans. “The fact that we found these plastics is a sign that the reach of human beings is truly planetary in scale.”
Samples taken from four different stations at locations in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica revealed traces of plastic at a measure of approximately 50,000 fragments per square kilometre — a rate comparable to the global average. While traces of plastic pollutants are customary in many of the world’s oceans, with the highest levels found in the North Atlantic and North Sea, researchers had anticipated rates in the Southern Ocean to be some 10 times lower than the global average.
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The Kara Sea is so remote that the Soviet Union used it as a dumping ground for radioactive material for more than 25 years. The two oil companies have avoided calls for the nuclear waste, estimated to consist of over 17,000 barrels of radioactive waste, worn-out reactors, and even an old nuclear submarine, to be cleared up before any exploration takes place.
The most dangerous item down on the sea floor in that area is the K-27 nuclear submarine, which was dumped their by the Soviet navy in 1981. The NRPA said that any significant corrosion could damage the ships reactor and cause an environmental disaster.
Exxon, Rosneft eye oil in nuclear wasteland http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2012/0927/Exxon-Rosneft-eye-oil-in-nuclear-wasteland
Exxon Mobil and Rosneft are planning to drill for oil in the Kara Sea, which the Soviet Union used as a dumping ground for radioactive material for more than 25 years, according to OilPrice.com. By James Burgess, September 27, 2012 It has been well documented that oil majors from around the world are looking at oil exploration in the Arctic, where they believe that some of the largest untapped fields in the world still lie.
Environmentalists have been fighting efforts to start exploring for oil, fearing that any serious oil spill could mean the destruction of one of the last pristine wildernesses on the planet.
In the Kara Sea, where Exxon Mobil and Rosneft are planning to drill a
region which is estimated to hold enough oil to supply the world for
five years, environmentalists have a new reason to fear for the
environment; nuclear radiation.
By Robert Mendick and Andrew Gilligan 29th September 2012.
A senior Government minister has accused the European Union of squandering Britain’s international aid budget on schemes that often have nothing to do with alleviating world poverty.
Brussels insists it does not “impose” its choice of aid projects on Britain but – in an escalation of hostilities – a senior Conservative separately accused the EU of lying. “If you want an EU lie, this is a classic one,” said the senior Tory. “It is a 100 per cent lie. We have been arguing with the EU whenever we can that the money should have a poverty focus.”
At next week’s party conference in Birmingham, Justine Greening, the new International Development Secretary, will face calls from the party grassroots to clamp down on wasteful spending and projects which are not squarely aimed at tackling poverty.
An investigation into overseas aid by The Sunday Telegraph has revealed how £1.4 billion, one-sixth of DfID’s budget, is diverted to the EU for its own schemes – many of them in relatively wealthy countries that the UK no longer believes should receive aid.
Among the findings are:
* £800,000 out of the EU aid budget is being spent on a water park being built in Morocco by the French owners of Center Parcs
* Iceland has received £20 million from an EU fund subsidised by British aid. The funding is to prepare Iceland for EU membership – even though two-thirds of the country no longer wish to join
* a former Lancashire detective turned DfID consultant was given £223,683 for fighting corruption in Jamaica, one of eight consultants paid more than £100,000 for their work
* DfID said a review had now been ordered into spending on ‘independent experts’ whose contracts had been agreed with the previous, Labour government
Mr Duncan told The Sunday Telegraph that the moment had now been reached to review the EU’s aid programme. He said: “We share the people’s anger on this. We are forced to give money to the European Union.
“We ask them to focus aid on poverty but they don’t, and we have no choice in the matter.”