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The latest from NASA’s Earth Observatory (25 July 2006)
In the News:
* Latest Images:
CALIPSO and CloudSat Images
Fires Across the Central Siberian Plateau
Yates Oilfield, West Texas
Tropical Storm Beryl
Isle Royale National Park
Tsunami Damage in Java
2006 Tour de France Stage 17
Atlantic Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly
* NASA News
- NASA Satellites Find Balance in South America’s Water Cycle
* Media Alerts
- One-Third in High Risk Hurricane Areas Say They May Ignore Evacuation Order
- Gas Escaping from Ocean Floor May Drive Global Warming
* Headlines from the press, radio, and television:
- New Tsunami Alert in Sulawesi
- Flood Toll Adds to Welter of Weather Disasters in China
- Japan’s Flooding Death Toll Rises
- Researchers Link Wildfires, Climate Change
- Tropical Storm Beryl Weakens
- The Real Reason Louisiana is Sinking
- Scientists Map Miles of Underwater Dunes
- Warmer Water Disrupts Pacific Food Chain
- History Suggests Major Wind Shift Could Again Bring Drought to Great Plains
- Ocean “Gummy Bears” Fight Global Warming
- Undersea Gas Could Speed Up Global Warming
- Red Sea Region Parting in Massive Split
- Europe Sweltering in Record Heat Wave
- Mount Fuji Overdue for Eruption, Experts Warn
- Japan Plans 30-Year Supercomputer Forecasts
- Death Toll in Indonesian Tsunami Reaches 400
- UN Says Mangroves in Pacific under Threat
* New Research Highlights
In Middle East conflict, other crises, conservative media find signs of Biblical prophecy of Armageddon
In recent days, some members of the conservative media have seen signs of the Apocalypse in the escalated conflicts in the Middle East and Asia. Pat Robertson has considered the possibility but has seemed to reject it, while columnist Hal Lindsey has simply asserted: “Now Armageddon looms large before us.” But as recent reports on CNN and in USA Today attest, conservatives are not the only media figures to raise the question of whether current events are a sign of the “End Times.”
Religion does fulfill primary need
Kenneth Burres, guest columnist: Don’t blame the religion for what some of its adherents do.
Complete article at:
Kenneth L. Burres of Sequim is emeritus professor of religion at Central Methodist University.
Plame Leakers Keep Security Clearance:
None In Bush Administration Stripped Of Access To U.S. Secrets. Not the Plame leakers, not the folks related to the AIPAC scandal. Nobody
String of Pearls: Meeting the Challenge of China’s Rising Power Across the Asian Littoral
The author describes the “String of Pearls” as the manifestation of China’s rising geopolitical influence through efforts to increase access to ports and airfields, develop special diplomatic relationships, and modernize military forces that extend from the South China Sea through the Strait of Malacca, across the Indian Ocean, and on to the Arabian Gulf. The monograph examines the “String of Pearls” as an evolving maritime component of China’s national strategy, implications for the U.S.-China relationship, and broader U.S. policy implications for the entire region.
Published July 2006, Authored by Lieutenant Colonel Christopher J Pehrson
The SSI Publishing Team
Strategic Studies Institute
U.S. Army War College
BLOOD IN BEIRUT: $75.05 A BARREL
The failure to stop the bloodletting in the Middle East, Exxon’s record second-quarter profits and Iran’s nuclear cat-and-mouse game have something in common — it’s the oil.
By Greg Palast
July 26, 2006
I can’t tell you how it started — this is a war that’s been fought since the Levites clashed with the Philistines — but I can tell you why the current mayhem has not been stopped. It’s the oil.
I’m not an expert on Palestine nor Lebanon and I’d rather not pretend to be one. If you want to know what’s going on, read Robert Fisk. He lives there. He speaks Arabic. Stay away from pundits whose only connection to the Middle East is the local falafel stand.
So why am I writing now? The answer is that, while I don’t speak Arabic or Hebrew, I am completely fluent in the language of petroleum.
What? You don’t need a degree in geology to know there’s no oil in Israel, Palestine or Lebanon. (A few weeks ago, I was joking around with Afif Safieh, the Palestinian Authority’s Ambassador to the US, asking him why he was fighting to have a piece of the only place in the Middle East without oil. Well, there’s no joking now.)
Let’s begin with the facts we can agree on: the berserkers are winning. Crazies discredited only a month ago are now in charge, guys with guns bigger than brains and souls smaller still. Here’s a list:
– Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s approval rating in June was down to a Bush-level of 35%. But today, Olmert’s poll numbers among Israeli voters have more than doubled to 78% as he does his bloody John Wayne “cleanin’ out the varmints” routine. But let’s not forget: Olmert can’t pee-pee without George Bush’s approval. Bush can stop Olmert tomorrow. He hasn’t.
– Hezbollah, a political party rejected overwhelmingly by Lebanese voters sickened by their support of Syrian occupation, holds a mere 14 seats out of 128 in the nation’s parliament. Hezbollah was facing demands by both Lebanon’s non-Shia majority and the United Nations to lay down arms. Now, few Lebanese would suggest taking away their rockets. But let’s not forget: Without Iran, Hezbollah is just a fundamentalist street gang. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can stop Hezbollah’s rockets tomorrow. He hasn’t.
– Hamas, just days before it kidnapped and killed Israeli soldiers, was facing certain political defeat at the hands of the Palestinian majority ready to accept the existence of Israel as proposed in a manifesto for peace talks penned by influential Palestinian prisoners. Now the Hamas rocket brigade is back in charge. But let’s not forget: Hamas is broke and a joke without the loot and authority of Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah can stop these guys tomorrow. He hasn’t.
Why not? Why haven’t what we laughably call “leaders” of the USA, Iran and Saudi Arabia called back their delinquent spawn, cut off their allowances and grounded them for six months?
Maybe because mayhem and murder in the Middle East are very, very profitable to the sponsors of these characters with bombs and rockets. America, Iran and Saudi Arabia share one thing in common: they are run by oil regimes. The higher the price of crude, the higher the profits and the happier the presidents and princelings of these petroleum republics.
This Thursday, Exxon is expected to report the highest second-quarter earnings of any corporation since the days of the Pharaoh, $9.9 billion in pure profit collected in just three months — courtesy of an oil shortage caused by pipelines on fire in Iraq, warlord attacks in Nigeria, the lingering effects of the sabotage of Venezuela’s oil system by a 2002 strike… the list could go on.
Exxon’s brobdingnagian profits simply reflect the cold axiom that oil companies and oil states don’t make their loot by finding oil but by finding trouble. Finding oil increases supply. Increased supply means decreased price. Whereas finding trouble — wars, coup d’etats, hurricanes, whatever can disrupt supply — raises the price of oil.
A couple of examples from today’s Bloomberg newswire are:
“Crude oil traded above $75 a barrel in New York as fighting between Israeli and Iranian-backed Hezbollah forces in Lebanon entered its 14th day… Oil prices rose last month on concern for supplies from Iran, the world’s fourth largest producer, may be disrupted in its dispute with the United Nations over its uranium enrichment … [And, said a trader,] ‘I still think $85 is likely this summer. I’m really surprised we haven’t seen any hurricanes.”’
In Tehran, President Ahmadinejad may or may not have a plan to make a nuclear bomb, but he sure as heck knows that hinting at it raises the price of the one thing he certainly does have — oil. Every time he barks, ‘Mad Mahmoud’ knows that he’s pumping up the price of crude. Just a $10 a barrel “blow-up-in-the-Mideast” premium brings his regime nearly a quarter of a billion dollars each week (including the little kick to the value of Iran’s natural gas). Not a bad pay-off for making a bit of trouble.
Saudi Arabia’s rake-in from The Troubles? Assuming just a $10 a barrel boost for Middle Eastern mayhem and you can calculate that the blood in the sand puts an extra $658 million a week in Abdullah’s hand.
And in Houston, you can hear the cash registers jing-a-ling as explosions in Kirkuk, Beirut and the Niger River Delta sound like the sleigh-bells on Santa’s sled. At $75.05 a barrel, they don’t call it “sweet” crude for nothing. That’s up 27% from a year ago. The big difference between then and now: the rockets’ red glare.
Exxon’s second-quarter profits may bust records, but next quarter’s should put it to shame, as the “Lebanon premium” and Iraq’s insurgency have puffed up prices, up by an average of 11% in the last three months.
So there’s not much incentive for the guys who supply the weaponry to tell their wards to put away their murderous toys. This war’s just too darn profitable.
We are trained to think of Middle Eastern conflicts as just modern flare-ups of ancient tribal animosities. But to uncover why the flames won’t die, the usual rule applies: follow the money.
Am I saying that Tehran, Riyadh and Houston oil chieftains conspired to ignite a war to boost their petroleum profits? I can’t imagine it. But I do wonder if Bush would let Olmert have an extra week of bombings, or if the potentates of the Persian Gulf would allow Hamas and Hezbollah to continue their deadly fireworks if it caused the price of crude to crash. You know and I know that if this war took a bite out of Exxon or the House of Saud, a ceasefire would be imposed quicker than you can say, “Let’s drill in the Arctic.”
Eventually, there will be another ceasefire. But Exxon shareholders need not worry. Global warming has heated the seas sufficiently to make certain that they can look forward to a hellacious — and profitable — season of hurricanes.
Greg Palast is the author of the just-released New York Times bestseller, ARMED MADHOUSE: Who’s Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal ’08, No Child’s Behind Left and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War.
Borowitz Report – Guantanamo Shocker
Detainees To Be Transferred From Guantanamo to Naomi Campell
Terror Suspects to Become Personal Assistants to Supermodel
In a deal designed to silence critics of the detention center at Guantanamo, the United States announced today that it would begin transferring all detainees held there to the custody of supermodel Naomi Campbell.
Once the terror suspects have been transferred to Ms. Campbell’s residence, they will work as her personal assistants, picking up her laundry, sending her shoes out for repair, and performing any other chores that the demanding supermodel may designate.
In exchange for their services, Ms. Campbell will be responsible for feeding, housing, and interrogating the terror suspects in her employ.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said the deal to transfer terror suspects from Guantanamo to Naomi Campbell was a solution to two nagging problems: “We were getting a lot of heat for Guantanamo, and Naomi was having a heck of a time holding onto personal assistants.”
But even as Secretary Rumsfeld trumpeted the deal, the human rights group Amnesty International raised concerns about the treatment detainees would receive while in the custody of Naomi Campbell.
“We are very concerned that Ms. Campbell intends to throw her cell phone at them,” said Carol Foyler, a spokesperson for the group. “In our view, forcing people to work for Naomi Campbell could be a violation of the Geneva Conventions.”
According to a guard at Guantanamo, the deal could be a non-starter for another reason: “As soon as the detainees heard the name Naomi Campbell, they went on a hunger strike.”
Elsewhere, the United States and NATO declined to send troops to southern Lebanon, calling themselves “the coalition of the unwilling.”
three to see
This Modern World: Gloomy Gus and Perky Pete
trouble town (Lloyd Dangle): wwiii
Mike Keefe: Hillary and the Base