Nine Circles of Hell! for Wedneday: More Wars and Oil Salesmen
Dozens more have died in the Iraq war.
News.com.au reports, “A suicide bomb in the middle of a funeral at a Shi’ite mosque in north Iraq killed at least 35 people and wounded 70 others on Wednesday, security and medical officials say.
“The blast struck at the Sayida al-Shuhada mosque in Tuz Khurmatu, 175 kilometres north of Baghdad, and targeted the funeral of a relative of a politician who was killed a day earlier.”
Shallal Abdul, mayor of Tuz Khurmatu, is quoted saying,
“Corpses are on the ground of the Husseiniyah (Shi’ite mosque).
“The suicide bomber managed to enter and blow himself up in the middle of the mourners.”
News.com.au adds, “Among the wounded was Ali Hashem Mukhtar, the deputy chief of the Iraqi Turkman Front and a provincial councillor in Salaheddin province.
“The funeral had been for Mukhtar’s brother-in-law, who was shot dead in Tuz Khurmatu on Tuesday afternoon.”
Thankfully, the war is over and The Media can go back to ignoring what happens in Iraq.
Syria’s civil war still deadly and is getting more sectarian.
According to The Associated Press, “A rocket fired by Syrian regime forces slammed into a northern rebel-held village Wednesday, killing six members of a single family, activists said, while Turkey’s foreign minister called on the international community to declare the Syrian regime’s bombardment of its own citizens a war crime.
“With violence escalating and hopes of a political solution dwindling, Russia announced for the first time that it has evacuated families of its diplomats in Syria some time ago but said it is not planning a large-scale evacuation of the tens of thousands of its citizens still in the country.
“Russia has been the main protector of President Bashar Assad, shielding him from U.N. sanctions over his crackdown on an uprising that began in March 2011.
“In Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sought to play down the significance of evacuation of 77 of its citizens who had fled Syria and were flown back to Moscow on Wednesday. He told reporters that about 1,000 Russians residing in Syria contacted consular officials to express their interest in leaving the country, but no large-scale evacuation was immediately planned.
“Both sides have increased attacks over the past weeks as diplomatic efforts have floundered with the opposition rejecting any dialogue with Assad in power and Syrian officials saying the president will stay until the end of his term in mid-2014, and will be running for re-election.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, “Aleppo and many other cities are being bombarded by airplanes indiscriminately.”
The AP continues, “Also Wednesday, Human Rights Watch reported that armed opposition groups appeared to have deliberately destroyed religious sites in mixed areas of northern Syria in the last two months of last year.
“The New York-based group said investigations showed an armed opposition group destroyed two churches in the coastal region of Latakia and a Shiite Muslim place of worship in the northwestern province of Idlib.
“Evidence and witness testimony suggested that all three attacks took place after the areas fell to opposition control and government forces had left, the group said.”
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said, “The destruction of religious sites is furthering sectarian fears and compounding the tragedies of the country, with tens of thousands killed. Syria will lose its rich cultural and religious diversity if armed groups do not respect places of worship. Leaders on both sides should send a message that those who attack these sites will be held accountable.”
I’m always a bit hesitant to point out any reports of a Sunni-Shia divide. However, this report from HRW is worth considering.
In the midst of peace talks, Nepal’s Maoists, police clash.
Reuters informs us, “Opponents of Nepal’s Maoist prime minister hurled stones at rivals and erected barricades in a provincial town on Wednesday, police and media said, raising tensions that threaten a peace process in a country still recovering from a decade of civil war.
“At least two dozen people were injured in Dailekh, 300 km (185 miles) west of the capital, Kathmandu, where activists from seven opposition parties, calling for Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai to resign, massed outside the venue of a Maoist conference. Police fired tear gas to try to disperse the crowds.
“A building housing the local Maoist party office was set on fire, police said. Opposition activists blocked the main roads leading into town and burned tires to enforce a general strike against the government, witnesses said.”
Reuters explains, “This is the first time the Maoists and opposition parties have clashed since parliament was dissolved in May, having failed to finalize a new constitution seen as key to the country’s long term stability.”
Reuters concludes, “The Maoists waged an armed struggle against the country’s now toppled monarchy. They joined the political mainstream in 2006 after the end of the civil war that killed more than 16,000 people. They won elections two years later and are now leading a coalition government in the impoverished Himalayan republic.”
Add Nepal to a growing list of Himalayan nations including Tibet and Kashmir that are experiencing troubles.
Russia has warned Israel and the US to not attack Iran.
Reuters reveals, “Russia warned Israel and the West on Wednesday against any military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities but suggested Tehran should be quicker to cooperate over inspections of its nuclear sites.
“Speaking at his annual news conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov mixed words of caution over isolating Iran or attacking it with a gentle nudge to Tehran over the inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.”
Lavrov is quoted saying, “Attempts to prepare and implement strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities and on its infrastructure as a whole are a very, very dangerous idea. We hope these ideas will not come to fruition.”
Lavrov said of the current IAEA-Iran talks, “The Iranians have said they want this document to be agreed in full. We think our Iranian colleagues could do this a little bit faster.”
I twill be curious to see if Israel’s Iran policy will shift now that the Netanyahu government has lost seats in the Knesset to a new centrist party.
Kenya rounds up Somali refugees after they were attacked.
AlertNet says, “Kenyan government plans to round up urban refugees and transport them to camps are illegal and have led to a surge in xenophobic attacks, rights groups said on Tuesday.
“Previously, refugees who could support themselves or were in need of specialised education or medical care were allowed to live in urban areas.
“However, that has changed after the east African nation experienced a spate of violent attacks, mostly in the capital and close to the Somali border, since it sent soldiers into its anarchic neighbour in 2011 to drive out Islamist rebels linked to al Qaeda.”
Gerry Simpson, a refugee advocate with Human Rights Watch (HRW), said, “Kenya is using the recent grenade attacks to stigmatise all refugees as potential terrorists and to force tens of thousands of them into appalling living conditions in already severely overcrowded camps.”
AlertNet continues, “On January 16, the government announced that it would start relocating an estimated 100,000 urban refugees to refugee camps as it blames Somali militants living among them for a wave of bombings, shootings and hand-grenade attacks in Kenya. The plan was initially announced in December.”
AlertNet adds, “Somali refugees are required to be housed at Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, close to the Somali border, 500 km from the capital. All other refugees must reside at Kakuma, another remote camp located near Kenya’s frontier with South Sudan.
“Kenya hosts more than 525,000 Somali refugees, the majority in Dadaab, which is severely overcrowded, holding four times the population it was built for.
“There are more than 55,000 registered refugees in Nairobi, though there are believed to be thousands more undocumented refugees, some of whom have lived in Kenya for more than 20 years.
“The recent spate of violence has spurred a rise in xenophobia against Somalis. In November, street battles erupted between Kenyans and ethnic Somalis in Eastleigh, a part of Nairobi commonly dubbed ‘Little Mogadishu’ because of its large Somali population, after a bomb on a minibus killed seven people in the area.”
Lucy Kiama, executive director of the Refugee Consortium of Kenya, is quoted saying, “Since the Kenyan government announced this directive that all refugees should move to the camps, we have seen a dramatic increase in attacks on Somali refugees and Kenyans of Somali origin in Nairobi.”
Round up the victims of crimes and allow the criminals to stay free.
Anti-austerity rallies have shut down Slovenia.
The Associated Press informs us, “Schools closed down, theaters cancelled shows, hospitals switched to weekend schedules and long lines formed at Slovenia’s borders on Wednesday due to a massive anti-austerity strike, while the government was on the brink of collapse over corruption allegations.
“Tens of thousands of teachers, university professors, doctors, customs officials and other state employees joined the strike, angry that the coalition government of Prime Minister Janez Jansa has cut their salaries by 5 percent to reduce debt and avoid needing an EU bailout.
“Several thousand flag-waving protesters also rallied in central Ljubljana, the capital, demanding job security and accusing the government of corruption.”
AP quotes union leader Branimir Strukelj proclaiming, “Don’t believe those who say the situation will improve if cleaners, policemen or nurses are fired!”
AP continues, “the government has been shaken by corruption allegations against Jansa, who has been asked to step down by coalition partners. A report issued this month by an anti-graft watchdog accused him of failing to declare more than €200,000 ($266,340) in private assets, which he has denied.”
AP concludes, “Slovenia, once a star economy among EU newcomers, has seen its gross domestic product shrink by 3.3 percent in the third quarter compared with a year earlier — the third-biggest drop in the eurozone after Greece and Portugal.”
Protest against austerity are NEVER reported on the nightly US national network TV news.
They’re too busy worrying about Beyonce lip-synching to be concerned with the biggest economic issue of our time.
President Obama is one step closer to approving Keystone XL, two days after an inauguration speech promising a fight against climate change.
The Guardian says, “Barack Obama has ducked a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, a key environmental issue, just one day after delivering a stirring call to action on climate change.
“In the first test of Obama’s renewed commitment to climate, the administration said on Tuesday it was putting off until April a decision on the project, which is designed to pump crude oil from the Alberta tar sands to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, the White House told reporters that climate change was just ‘one of a host of priorities’ for the president’s second term.
“The decision on Keystone XL is widely seen as a key test of his administration’s commitment to the environment. The project was propelled to the top of Obama’s inbox on Tuesday when the the governor of Nebraska signed off on the pipeline, leaving it up to the White House to decide on the fate of the project.”
Dave Heineman, the governor of Nebraska, wrote in a letter to the White House, “Construction and operation of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline… would have minimal environmental impacts in Nebraska.”
The Guardian cites anti-pipeline group 350.org — headed by past This is Hell! guest Bill McKibben — stating, “Approving Keystone XL would make a mockery of the commitment he made at the inauguration to take action on climate change.”
The Guardian explains, “Obama called a halt on the Keystone XL project a year ago, citing opposition from Heineman and local landowners in Nebraska to the proposed pipeline route. Heineman, a Republican, had balked on approving the pipeline because of concerns about its proposed route. Now with Heineman signing off on the pipeline, that political cover is gone, leaving it up to Obama to make a decision on a project that has come to symbolise the clash between environmental protection and economic growth.
“In the letter, Heineman said he approved of the revised pipeline route, which would avoid the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region. The route would still cross part of a crucial aquifer. However, Heineman said he was satisfied with the safety plan put forward by the pipeline’s operators, TransCanada.”
The Guardian adds, “Before Tuesday’s developments, campaigners had been upbeat about the possibility that the incoming secretary of state, John Kerry, would be more inclined to block the project than Hillary Clinton. Kerry has a reputation as a climate champion, for his efforts trying to push a climate law through the Senate. But the Keystone XL decision puts him in a delicate position.
“Federal financial disclosure records show Kerry, who ranks among the richest men in Congress, has investments in two Calgary-based energy companies that have lobbied for approval of the pipeline project. The Massachusetts Democrat, whose estimated net worth is $194m, had as much as $750,000 in Suncor and $31,000 in Cenova. Both energy firms have pressed for approval of the pipeline, the records show.
“Such investments are usually managed by blind trusts, but campaigners have called on Kerry to divest from firms linked to tar sands development.”
That seals it.
The Koch brothers and John Kerry’s Keystone XL will get Obama’s approval.
Bank on it.
Andean glacier retreat “unprecedented.”
Reuters observes, “Climate change has shrunk Andean glaciers between 30 and 50 percent since the 1970s and could melt many of them away altogether in coming years, according to a study published on Tuesday in the journal Cryosphere.
“Andean glaciers, a vital source of fresh water for tens of millions of South Americans, are retreating at their fastest rates in more than 300 years, according to the most comprehensive review of Andean ice loss so far.
“The study included data on about half of all Andean glaciers in South America, and blamed the ice loss on an average temperature spike of 0.7 degree Celsius (1.26 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past 70 years.”
Antoine Rabatel, the lead author of the study and a scientist with the Laboratory for Glaciology and Environmental Geophysics in Grenoble, France, said, “Glacier retreat in the tropical Andes over the last three decades is unprecedented.”
Reuters continues, “The researchers also warned that future warming could totally wipe out the smaller glaciers found at lower altitudes that store and release fresh water for downstream communities.”
Rabatel adds, “This is a serious concern because a large proportion of the population lives in arid regions to the west of the Andes.”
That means they need water from glaciers to survive.
Remember, global warming is only a scientific theory.
The researcher who first found vegetable oil to not be as good for us as advertised has now found that fish oil supplements are not good for you.
Vancouver Sun notes, “Groundbreaking research at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus is calling into question the value of fish-oil based supplements as a way to combat cardiac and inflammatory disease.
“Fish oil supplements fed to mice already on a diet rich in vegetable oil interfered with the ability of cells in the gastrointestinal system to repair themselves, according to recent research by Sanjoy Ghosh, an assistant professor of biology, published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
“Additional unpublished results point to a similar effect on cardiac tissues.
“Damaging oxidative stress appears to be caused by the combination of omega-6 fatty acids in vegetable-based oils and the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, according to Ghosh.
“In the past 50 years, North Americans have replaced much of the saturated fat in their diet with unsaturated fats, dramatically increasing their consumption of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and altering the balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
“Previous studies of human populations that consume large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids as part of their normal diet suggest a protective effect against cardiac and inflammatory disease.
“But when researchers added the omega-3 rich fish oil to the diet of mice to see if it would reduce the inflammation caused by omega-6 rich vegetable oils, they were stunned when it made matters worse.”
Ghosh is quoted saying, “Our hypothesis is that levels of omega 6 are so high in our bodies that any more unsaturated fatty acid — even omega 3, despite its health benefits — will actually contribute to the negative effects omega 6 PUFA have on the heart and gut. When there is too much [polyunsaturated fatty acid], the body doesn’t know what to do with it.”
The Sun continues, “This is not the first time that Ghosh has produced findings that turned popular notions about nutrition and health on their head.
“As a graduate student Ghosh discovered by accident that so-called ‘heart healthy’ oils rich in Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids inflicted damage to the hearts of rats and neo-natal pigs.
“The result was so shocking that Ghosh was turned down for publication by all the major scientific journals. The results of the rat-based study were eventually published by the journal Nutrition in 2004.
“Subsequent research vindicated Ghosh and opened up a new line of scientific inquiry questioning popularly held notions about the health benefits of vegetable based oils.”
Ghosh said, “Vegetable based oils like corn and canola were promoted to the public as a healthier alternative to animal-based fats, but there was never any research that said they are any healthier.
“There is no magic pill that fixes a bad diet.
“The vast majority of studies that show omega 3 oils are beneficial are based on eating fish, not pills. When you eat a lot of fish you automatically eat less of other oils and it’s a healthier balance.”
Not only are fish oil supplements likely bad for you, the explosion in the fish oil market has cut fish stocks.
So, they’re bad for you and they’re bad for the environment.
Now quit trusting all those fish oil salesmen who roll through your town!