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Saturday, April 12, 2003

Animal Rights and Human Social Issues

A study into the social demographics of people who are for and against animal rights -- revealing that the issue is tied to a range of other social belief patterns in many cases:
Those in this anti-animal rights group, constituting nearly 17% of the sample, were more likely than other respondents to favor easy public access to guns, to oppose abortion rights, to exhibit racial prejudice, to be more approving of interpersonal violence, to blame the victims of rape and to exhibit prejudice against homosexuals, and less likely to give people with different sexual orientations a right to free speech. Demographically, this group tended to be older, Protestant and male and to live outside the urban area.


Posted by Richard
4/12/2003 09:07:42 AM | PermaLink

Friday, April 11, 2003

Ask Writer Maya Angelou to Address Cat Killers

As the Palmer Chiropractic University System has done in the past, it again plans to butcher and kill hundreds of cats in cruel and useless spinal experiments. Yet, on April 28, 2003, Maya Angelou is scheduled to speak at the Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. Ms. Angelou, who is best known for her poetry, has extensive experience in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. In fact, she worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to promote tolerance. Famously, drawing from the poet Paul Dunbar, Ms. Angelou exclaimed that she knows why the caged bird sings -- for freedom. Please ask Ms. Angelou not to tolerate violence inflicted on people or animals, to take a poetic stand on this matter, and to demonstrate that she knows that caged felines also voice their displeasures...
Dr. Maya Angelou
3240 Valley Rd.
Winston Salem, NC 27106-2504
Fax: 336-722-0716

Posted by Richard
4/11/2003 07:42:50 AM | PermaLink

Iraq Natural Resources, Ecology and Culture (Links)

A History of Oil in Iraq: From Geology to Geopolitics. Andrew Graham.
December 13, 2002.

Background to the Conflict [Desert Storm].

Current Conflicts: Case Studies in the Muslim World.

Desert Star: U.S. Military Space Operations and Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Discovered and Undiscovered Petroleum Volumes in Assessed Portions of Countries.

Guiding Principles for U.S. Post-Conflict Policy in Iraq. Baker Institute Working Papers.

GulfLINK Collection. Central Intelligence Agency.

Information Sources. Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Iraq Country Analysis Brief. US Department of Energy.

Iraq: Geography, Population, Historical Background. [see also .../facts.htm and .../mapsiraq.htm]

Iraq Oil.

[Iraq] The Land.

Iraqi Oil and Gas Reserves, Oil Industry. January 20, 2003.

London Conference Cordinating Committee, December 18, 2002.

Mandaeans: The True Descendents of Ancient Babylonians and Chaldeans. Fredrick Aprim. February 11, 2002.

Maps Showing Geology, Ol and Gas Fields and Geologic Provinces of the Arabian Peninsula. Richard M. Pollastro, Amy S. Karshbaum, and Roland J. Viger.

Oil-for-Food Programme: A Fact-Sheet. February 2003.

Oil-for-Food Programme: Annex III: Distribution Plan for Phase XIII.

Office of the Iraq Programme: Oil-for-Food [Map of Provinces]

Oil-for-Food Programme: Weekly Update: 8-14 February 2003

Peace Vase Project: Locations of the Peace Vases: Middle East: Iraq.

Policy Briefs: Conference on "Iraqi Oil after Sanctions", February 29, 2000. Middle East Institute.

Ranking of the World's Oil and Gas Provinces by Known Petroleum Volumes.

Ranking of World Provinces that Contain Oil and Gas by Known Petroleum Volumes.

Saddam-ized: Iraqi Crude Oil. Adam Hamilton. 12 January 2001.

Satellite Map of the Middle East.

Special Topics on Social Conditions in Iraq: An Overview Submitted by the U.N. System to the Security Council Panel on Humanitarian Issues. Baghdad, 24 March 1999.

The Coming War With Iraq. Michael T. Klare.

The "Eden Again" Project: A New Project Sponsored by the Iraq Foundation

The Euphrates.

The Internally Displaced People of Iraq. John Fawcett, Victor Tanner. Brookings Institution. October 2002.

The Iraqi Government Assault on the Marsh Arabs: A Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper. January 2003.

The Tigris.

The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers

Typical Giant Oil Fields of South Iraq. Target Exploration, London.

UNSCOM/IAEA Sensitive: Note for the File [Important Suppressed Document: Interview of General Hussein Kamal, Iraqi Defector]. August 22,1995.

U.S. Energy Policy, Economic Sanctions and World Oil Supply. Edward D. Porter. American Petroleum Institute. June 2001.
- - - - - - -
for information or assistance:
Stuart M. Leiderman
"Environmental Refugees and Ecological Restoration"
Environmental Response/4th World Project

Natural Resources Department, James 215
University of New Hampshire-Durham 03824 USA

Posted by Richard
4/11/2003 07:30:29 AM | PermaLink

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Afghanistan: Interview with Irrigation and Environment Minister

8 Apr 2003 - In Afghanistan, more then 85 percent of the population of 25 million depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. With hundreds of thousands of people returning to the country seeking work, the revival of such a key sector in this drought-plagued nation depends on the rehabilitation of irrigation systems - both traditional and modern - which were destroyed by years of fighting and neglect.

That is by itself a formidable task, but the new Afghan minister for irrigation and environment, Yusuf Nuristani, also faces ecological challenges such as diminishing wetlands, forests and wildlife. Here is what Nuristani had to say on these issues during a recent interview with IRIN.

QUESTION: What are your main priorities?

ANSWER: I think the drought which has affected this country has had a negative impact on other countries in the region. There are six priorities at a national level, and irrigation is included in that. Also capacity building in terms of training, equipment and rehabilitation of the buildings, bringing electricity, having Internet so we can contact other organisations who are interested in supporting us. So this is our number-one priority and we hope to be able to implement it in the field.

Q: What sort of response have you had from the international community in terms of your needs?

A: There has been a good response, and many countries have come forward and are interested in supporting us with water issues to alleviate these problems.

Q: What state is the irrigation system in Afghanistan in following decades of conflict?

A: Afghanistan is an agrarian society, 80 percent of the economy belongs to agriculture and up to 85 percent of people are living in rural areas, so 80 percent of our irrigation system or fields are being irrigated by our traditional canal system, and only 12 percent by modern canals/reservoirs.

During the war, most of these traditional irrigation systems were destroyed, and people left the country, abandoning [their] land. The irrigation systems have fallen [victim] to erosion, there has been lack of maintenance and upkeep, so we need complete rehabilitation. Last year, we had 1.5 million Afghan refugees returning from neighbouring countries back to their land. We need to get these systems up and running again so that farmers can start business.

Q: What sort of a burden will these returnees place on the water system?

A: It will be a burden not only on the water system in the urban areas. Some people are unable to return to their land because there are mines there. We are working on this too. But once they return, they need to have systems which are working, and rehabilitation is urgently needed in order to ease the burden on water resources. We have over 150 projects in the pipeline to reconstruct systems to accommodate everyone.

Q: How many Afghans currently have access to safe drinking water?

A: When it comes to statistics in Afghanistan, we have to be careful and take them cautiously. Based on these statistics, 20 percent of Afghan people across the country have access to safe drinking water in cities and villages. The plan is to provide potable water to the people, and we will continue the digging of deep wells - after proper exploration so that we don't deprive groups of their resource. Afghanistan has suffered from war and drought for the past two decades, and would appreciate the continued inputs and financial, technical contributions to overcome these environmental problems, and restore this country to its former glory.

Q: There is concern that returnees will not go back to their land, but opt to stay in cities for job opportunities. What is your response to this?

A: We do realise that it is very difficult for them to go back to their land, because they have to build from scratch and, in some cases, complete devastation, but in the long term we urge them to go back to their land if it is safe, and we will do all we can to help them rehabilitate their land to make them self-sufficient.

Q: Are you dealing with property rights for farmers who've returned to find that their land has been occupied?

A: The ministry of agriculture is dealing with this, and we will support them on this issue. This is a problem, but we hope that it can be resolved.

Q: A recent report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) indicated serious concerns over degradation of water tables, wetlands, forests and wildlife in Afghanistan following decades of war. How is the ministry responding to this?

A: The environment has been damaged to a great extent. The UNEP completed this environmental assessment of Afghanistan, with Afghan experts showing that there were adverse effects. The problem was compounded by droughts. The most recent one has severely devastated land, particularly in the south, in Nimruz, Farah, and provinces in the north. Some 40 percent of the forests have been cut down. Desertification is another problem. Pollution of underground water is another one.

Q: Some people may argue that it is too early to start pointing fingers at people for destroying the environment, for life-saving reasons, in a country where people may be forced to chop down a tree to ensure that they keep warm over the winter.

A: Yes, this is true. The environmental damage has been caused by the Afghan people due to poverty, because they have no other alternative. But that is not as severe, because most of the degradation of forests has been caused by the timber mafias and not by the average poor Afghan. Our plan is to work with UNEP on projects to prevent increased environmental disaster in years to come. (IRIN)

Posted by Richard
4/10/2003 08:07:33 AM | PermaLink

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Scientific Facts on Climate Change and Global Warming

GreenFacts Foundation has published a document entitled Scientific Facts on Climate Change and Global Warming on its website. This document provides non-specialists with easy access to the scientific consensus found in the Third Assessment Report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The GreenFacts summaries present the issues in a series of questions and answers in three levels of increasing detail. They also provide validated links to other major science-based information sources.

The document introduces the 3-Level Structure, created by the GreenFacts team, enabling readers to easily access different levels of information on the Internet, starting with a brief answer to a question, moving to a second level with a more detailed summary and then clicking to the precise location of the full text in the source document on Level 3. GreenFacts Foundation General Manager, Jacques de Selliers, remarked that: This structure allows non-specialists like journalists or policy-makers to easily obtain information found in authoritative scientific consensus documents, without having to read complex scientific material or being hindered by political bias.

This Climate Change document is the fruit of the GreenFacts publication process. In this process, information is summarized in an accessible language on Level 2 and summarized again in Level 1. It is then reviewed by environmental NGOs and industry stakeholders from the GreenFacts Foundation's Panel of Experts, before being submitted to a peer review by independent specialists. After corrections, the GreenFacts Scientific Board, chaired by Professor Michel Mercier, approved the document for publication.

The document is available at French and Spanish versions are presently being finalized on-line.

Posted by Richard
4/09/2003 11:54:15 AM | PermaLink

China Opposes UN Condemnation of North Korean Nukes

Here is another failure of the UN as a globally democratic federal body. We already know that it lacks the political power and will to make the necessary condemnation of nuclear stockpiles generally -- from Indiana to Pyongyang. But the aggressive move to acquire new weapons and re-ignite Cold War nuclear production capacities around the world (a very grave mistake indeed), is now also off the table.

Beyond merely pointing the finger at the Security Council -- which has failed the dead and injured in Iraq, as it now is apparently willing to fail the people of the world -- George Bush and his administration have a direct effect in such irresponsible diplomacy as being exerted by the Chinese in this case. If the Bush administration, counter to all common-sense and non-fanatical advice, had spent the last year sowing an international image that was anything short of unilateralist bloodthirst, other powers such as the EU, Russia and China would not be as pre-disposed to flaunt American will and take up sides against it at any cost.

The saying that war only begets war is true in this case. Bush must be made to ante up to the table and play nicely in the UN lest we ignite a free for all in which weapons of mass destruction play a much more terrible role than they have done in legitimating the Iraqi war for oil spectacle.
China has opposed the UN Security Council condemnation of North Korean nuclear programme.

The UN Security Council was set to discuss the North Korean nuclear crisis Wednesday, amid belligerent messages from Pyongyang and divisions among its own members on how to move forward.

Any attempt to agree on a statement condemning North Korea's recent unilateral withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty seems doomed to failure given the opposition of China, which has close links with its Stalinist neighbour.

China and Russia are against the very idea of the Security Council meeting, arguing that it will only serve to inflame an already volatile and dangerous situation.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said it was "not appropriate" for the 15-member Council to discuss the issue at the moment. (ANI)

Posted by Richard
4/09/2003 08:52:45 AM | PermaLink

Lieberman Questions Ethics of Interior Deputy Secretary

What Lieberman doesn't bring up -- perhaps because this was an issue inherited by Gail Norton from the previous Clinton/Gore days -- is that the Secretary herself is not acting ethically. For instance, as far as I know she is still snowballing having been found in contempt of Federal court with her refusal to provide documentation and action on the resolution of a major suit filed by American Indians. The stink goes much higher Joe...
Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut sent a letter Monday to the Interior Department's Inspector General asking for a broad examination of the department's enforcement of ethics agreements designed to assure impartiality and avoid conflicts of interest.


Posted by Richard
4/09/2003 08:33:16 AM | PermaLink

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Stop Boise and Citibank National Days of Action

Rainforest Action Network sent this out recently....
Hello friends,
The grassroots team here at RAN would like to honor the efforts of the many RAN supporters who have been organizing for peace and justice as the war on Iraq continues. It is important and timely work, especially because this war is another extension of the ongoing war being waged upon the earth, in places as far away as Ecuador and Nigeria.

RAN's mission is to protect the Earth's rainforests and support the rights of their inhabitants through education, grassroots organizing, and nonviolent direct action. This fight must continue despite the challenges to organizing on environmental issues in this current political climate.

We've been called some of the most effective environmental agitators in the business by the Wall Street Journal. And our strength comes from our members, activists, and organizers who lend their support from their own communities, on-the-ground.

Today, I'm writing to ask you to support our common vision of a world in which rainforests and their inhabitants are protected from corporate threats. The best way you can do this in the month of April is to join in on one - or both - of the national days of action RAN is sponsoring. RAN staff will assist you with spreading the word, planning your event, and campaign materials.

1) April 17th is the STOP Boise National Day of Action targeting Blockbuster Video and Borders as well as the Boise Shareholders Meeting.

Once a year the head honchos at Boise get together for their dog-and-pony show. We plan to be there to get ROWDY in Boise, Idaho. Even if you can't join us in Idaho, you can help put the pressure on by targeting Blockbuster Video and Borders Books, two of Boise's big customers. Boise continues to log and distribute old growth wood from around the world. Get involved by signing-up to be a local contact in your community or your school for the day of action: visit

2) April 29th is the STOP Citi National Day of Action targeting Citigroup, the world's biggest funder of forest destruction and global warming.

Join thousands of people around the country and around the world for a day of action. Organize your community for an action, demonstration, call-in day, or something else entirely. Pick a Citibank/Solomon Smith Barney/Citifinancial branch near you! Be creative. We're calling on Citi to stop funding fossil fuels and environmentally destructive projects. Until they adopt responsible social and environmental lending practices, people around the world will continue to tell Citi: Not With My Money. Sign-up online at

For information on getting involved in either action, contact Sharon (Boise) or Dan (Citi) at or call 800-989-RAIN.

We can win these battles with your help! Warmly,

The RAN grassroots team: Dan, Ilyse, Martin, Jen, and Sharon

Posted by Richard
4/08/2003 08:08:41 AM | PermaLink

Wetlands Destroyed by Hussein Could Thrive Again

A major article in the SF Chronicle dealing with the proposal of resurrecting the great Iraqi Southern Marshes as a fundamental aspect of any post-war reconstruction. There is also a poll to vote on the idea. I love when I see my thoughts (I won't say picked up) but mirrored by the major media sources. Thanks Glen Martin for this work...
There could be an unexpected beneficiary of the war in Iraq: the environment.

More specifically, the late, great Mesopotamian marshes -- a decade ago, the largest wetland by far in the Middle East, and a site considered by many religious scholars as the inspiration for the Garden of Eden in the Bible and Koran.

Located at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers near Basra, this vast watery substrate sprawled over 20,000 square kilometers, providing sustenance and shelter for a wide array of wildlife. They were also home to 200,000 "ma'dan," or marsh Arabs, a group of hunters and fishermen who trace their habitation of the region back five millennia.

The marsh Arabs lived in singular harmony with their watery environment, building elegant boats and elaborate houses out of reeds.

But Hussein considered the swamps a haven for Shiite opponents of his regime. So in the mid-1990s, he drained the marshes, broadcast pesticides to kill the fish and wildlife, and attacked the villages of the ma'dan. Today, the once verdant network of reed beds and waterways is mostly a sere and lifeless plain.

"It is just another example of the complete ruthlessness of the regime," said Azzam Alwash, an Iraqi exile and civil engineer. He is also a leading advocate for restoration of the marshes, and sits on the board of the Iraq Foundation, a nonprofit nongovernmental organization "working for democracy and human rights" in Iraq.

"Everyone is harping about Saddam's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction," said Alwash, "but here he used water as a mass destruction weapon. He used it to destroy a culture that has lasted 5,000 years. And I'm afraid it has made me somewhat cynical that the international community stood by and did nothing while it was happening."

The marshes were an integral part of the Iraqi culture and collective psyche, said Alwash, and their loss is an emotional blow that is hard for outsiders to understand.


Ecological scientists are in general accord with Alwash that the destruction of the marshes was a catastrophe of global significance.

"By any measure, this was one of the most important wetland systems in the world," said Scott McCreary, a principal and co-founder of Concur Inc., an East Bay consulting group that specializes in developing consensus solutions to natural resource conflicts. "It was on par with other great mega-deltas such as the Yangtze and the Amazon."

Concur convened a February conference on the marshes at UC Irvine. The attending scientists are expected to issue a paper on possible restoration strategies in the next few weeks.

The paper could well become a blueprint of great significance. If U.S. and British forces win the war as expected, some conservationists say it could provide a remarkable opportunity -- the chance to restore the natural splendor of the Mesopotamian marshes. If successful, such a project could be the greatest single wetland restoration in the history of the world.

"The end of the war could provide a genuine opportunity to do this," said Chris Lagan, the media director for The World Resources Institute. "It won't be easy. About 88 percent of the marsh has been depleted. There's a sense it will take a tremendous amount of effort, but it's not impossible."

Michelle Stevens, a professor of environmental studies at Sacramento State University and the manager of the Iraq Foundation's Eden Again Project, which is dedicated to restoring the marshes, acknowledged that the scale of the vision is somewhat daunting.

"It took 50 years to destroy 95 percent of the wetlands in California, but it took only about two years to obliterate the Mesopotamian marshes," Stevens said. "(Hussein) obliterated one of the biologically richest places on Earth, and destroyed a unique and ancient culture."

In the short term, Stevens said, scientists must do two things.

"First, we need to identify areas that are so toxic (from pesticides and salt accumulation) that it would be counterproductive to rehydrate them," she said.

Those planning for the marshes' restoration must also grapple with the fact that there's less water available in Iraq than there was 10 years ago.

"New hydro projects in Turkey, Syria and Iran have significantly reduced the flow down the Tigris and Euphrates," Stevens said, "and we're going to have to work with that."

Scientists are working on hydrologic models that reflect the current water availability, but Stevens said it's clear there will be "enough water to do a major restoration of some kind, one that will be worthwhile."


Sizable segments of marsh remain near the Iran-Iraq border, she said, "and we think they contain some of the charismatic fauna the region was known for --

species like smooth-coated otters, Dalmatian pelicans, jungle cats, goliath herons and sacred ibis. With luck, we can re-establish them in restored areas."

Alwash said the reduced flows of the Euphrates and Tigris complicate any restoration scenario, but he maintains much can be accomplished with the water at hand.

"First, there is at least 45 billion cubic feet of recoverable water in the Tharthar Depression, a very large lake between the Euphrates and Tigris," said Alwash. "We can use that immediately to start rehydrating the marshes."

The canals Hussein used to drain the marshes -- The Mother of Battles River,

the Loyalty to the Leader Canal/Pipeline and the Third River -- can also be diverted to the marsh zone, Alwash said.

"Finally, we can make Turkey a stakeholder in the new Iraq," said Alwash. "Turkey desperately needs hard capital and Iraq will need new power capacity to rebuild. Iraq can buy power from Turkey's hydro projects on the Tigris, and use the extra water that will be released downstream for marsh restoration."

Pursuing these three strategies, Alwash said, "it should be possible to restore from one-half to two-thirds of the original marshes."

Suzie Alwash, the director of the Eden Again project and Azzam Alwash's wife, said the configuration of the restoration should be determined primarily by those who once lived there -- the marsh Arabs.

Since Hussein's initial persecutions, Alwash said, the ma'dan have been forced into a diaspora, some fleeing Iraq, others seeking anonymity in Basra and other Iraqi cities.


"We're already working with a group of (marsh Arab) refugees in San Diego," said Alwash. "Ultimately we will have a stakeholders group that will tell us their priorities. The marsh can be managed in many different ways -- say for fisheries in one portion, migratory birds and other wildlife in another portion, and so on. The people who once called these marshes home will guide this."

Pegging the restoration to the needs of local people will be the key to success, other scientists agree.

The marshes were "a tremendous economic engine for the country," said Thomas L. Crisman, a professor of environmental engineering and the director of the Howard T. Odum Center for Wetlands at the University of Florida at Gainesville. "They not only supported the hundreds of thousands of people who lived there, but their fisheries provided much-needed protein to the populations of Basra and other cities."

While the marshes were a stunning ecological jewel, a repository of rare and endangered animals, Crisman said the key to resurrecting them is to emphasize their economic importance.

"The marshes were a critical component for the fisheries and water quality of the entire Persian Gulf," Crisman said. "Marshes act as filters and transport systems -- on one hand, turning contaminants into organic matter that fish, shrimp and other commercially important species can use, and on the other, dispersing that organic manner into surrounding aquatic systems."

Otters and the rest of the wildlife, Crisman said, "are incredibly important, but you won't necessarily be able to sell them to the World Bank. The World Bank does understand robust commercial fisheries, however."

The critical issue for restoration advocates, said Crisman, is to find the point where a revived marsh can be truly self-sustaining, from both the ecological and economic perspectives.

"We need to determine just how much of a wetland restoration you need to get a cultural restoration," he said. "What scale is critical? Frankly, we don't know. Which is why we have to get things going on the ground as soon as possible."

Glen Martin, Chronicle Environment Writer

Posted by Richard
4/08/2003 07:38:03 AM | PermaLink

Monday, April 07, 2003

National Parks and Conservation: Annotated History

The following essay, Conservation, Preservation, and Environmental Activism: A Survey of the Historical Literature is a readable place to look if you have an interest that you'd like to grow in these topics. Decent accounting of what's been written on these subjects.

Posted by Richard
4/07/2003 07:41:38 AM | PermaLink