Nine Circles of Hell! Tuesday: Old Wars and New Bombs Nine Circles of Hell!

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Kashmiris are preparing for a nuclear attack.
The Associated Press says, “Officials in Indian-controlled Kashmir are warning residents to be prepared for a possible nuclear war by building build bomb-proof basements and collecting two weeks’ worth of food and water.
“Local officials said the advisory was routine, though it was the first time it had been published in a newspaper. They said it did not signal new concerns about a nuclear attack in the region, repeatedly fought over by nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan.
“A series of deadly skirmishes along the cease-fire line in recent weeks has heightened tensions between the two countries, and the timing of the advisory surprised many residents in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir.”
Kashmiri Fayaz Ahmed said, “This is fueling an atmosphere of fear. Educating people is fine but not this brazen way.”
The AP adds, “Both India and Pakistan claim the divided Kashmir region in its entirety and have fought two wars over it.
“Earlier this month, three Pakistani soldiers and two Indian soldiers were killed in the worst bout of fighting in Kashmir since a cease-fire accord was signed by the countries in 2003.
“In light of the violence, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Sunday he was reviewing future ties with Pakistan.”
Nuclear war, Pakistan fighting India … but who is Michelle Obama wearing?

Saudis say a negotiated settlement with Syria’s Assad “is inconceivable to us.”
Reuters reports, “Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Tuesday the scale of violence used by Syria’s government when fighting rebels meant a negotiated settlement of the country’s crisis was unthinkable.”
Prince Saud al-Faisal said, “Damascus… which has been a city for the longest period of time, is carpet bombed. How can you conceive of the possibility of a negotiated settlement with somebody who does that to his own country, to his own history, to his own people? It is inconceivable to us.”
Reuters continues, “Sunni Muslim power Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter and birthplace of Islam, has led Arab efforts to isolate the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which is allied to Saudi Arabia’s main regional rival – Shi’ite Muslim Iran.”
Reuters continues, “Last year Prince Saud said the rebels should be armed. However, Syria’s opposition has failed to form a unified transitional government to run areas it holds, underscoring international concerns the conflict may allow radical Islamist groups to gain ground.”
The Saudis have wanted the Assad government to fall for some time, so that’s not a surprise.
However, the fact that they’re saying this suggests we may be getting closer to military intervention.

Despite a lack of coverage of the US national nightly TV network news, the Iraq war continues its deadly rampage.
Agence France Presse reveals, “A wave of attacks in and around Baghdad and in northern Iraq killed 17 people and wounded dozens of others on Tuesday, shattering a relative calm after a spate of deadly attacks last week.
“The violence comes amid a political crisis that has pitted Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki against several of his erstwhile government partners and with more than four weeks of anti-government protests in Sunni majority areas hardening opposition against the Shiite leader’s rule.
“Tuesday’s deadliest blasts struck an Iraqi army checkpoint south of Baghdad, a military base north of the capital, and a mostly Shiite neighbourhood in the city’s north, security and medical officials said.
“No group claimed responsibility, but militants often launch attacks in a bid to destabilise the government and push Iraq back towards the sectarian violence that blighted it from 2005 to 2008.
“In the bloodiest attack, six people were killed when a car bomb was detonated near an army camp in the town of Taji, 25km north of Baghdad, an army officer and a medical official said.
“At least 20 other people were wounded.
“South of the capital in the town of Mahmudiyah, at least five people were killed and 14 others wounded by a suicide car bomb, officials said.
“Mahmudiyah lies within a confessionally mixed region known as the ‘Triangle of Death’ because of the frequency of insurgent attacks during the worst of Iraq’s insurgency in the wake of the 2003 US-led invasion.”
AFP finishes with this line: “Attacks in Iraq are down from their peak in 2006-2007, but they are still common across the country.”
Hey, Iraq may still be hell, but it’s not as hellish as it used to be.
So Iraq’s got that goin’ for ‘em.

Forced from their homes by war, cold kills displaced Afghans.
According to Agence France Presse, “Severe cold weather sweeping through camps for people displaced by the Afghan war has killed 17 people, mostly children, Amnesty International said Tuesday.
“The deaths occurred in the first two weeks of January in Kabul and Herat provinces, which host most of the country’s half a million internally displaced people.
Amnesty’s deputy Asia Pacific director Polly Truscott said, “These deaths were a preventable tragedy.”
AFP adds, “Last winter about 100 people, mostly children and the elderly, lost their lives in the camps and the Afghan government and international donors had been urged to prevent a repeat of the tragedy.
Truscott is quoted adding that these deaths were due to “the inadequate co-ordination of winter assistance to hundreds of thousands of people living in displacement camps across the country.
“The fact that children and the elderly are among the dead highlights the need to protect those groups that are most vulnerable to the harsh winter conditions.”
AFP explains, “Decades of conflict have left Afghanistan with one of the highest internally displaced populations in the world. The UN refugee agency estimates it at 450,000 but Amnesty said the actual number is likely to be much higher.”
Truscott also said, “There is a desperate need to act now to prevent further deaths this winter. Afghanistan and its donor partners should remember that safeguarding lives in these settlements is an obligation under international law.”
These continuous wars is certain to nurture only the best characteristics in its victims.

Pakistanis are facing many more crises than just the war on terror.
Thomson Reuter’s AlertNet wire service reveals, “Millions of Pakistanis still need humanitarian assistance due to three consecutive years of monsoon flooding, persistent insecurity and government restrictions on aid workers, which are worsening poverty and hunger across the country.
“The latest data shows that nearly 60 percent of the population of around 190 million are food insecure, meaning they do not eat enough nutritious food each day to lead a healthy, active life, according to the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP).
“They include flood-hit farmers in southern Sindh province who could not plant their wheat crop last November due to standing water and a lack of seeds, and families who have been living in camps in the northwest for three or four years after fleeing clashes between the army and Islamist militants.”
This strip of instability from Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan is quite a legacy to be leaving to our children and theirs.

Japan’s finance minister wants old people to “hurry up and die.”
The Guardian tells us, “Japan’s new government is barely a month old, and already one of its most senior members has insulted tens of millions of voters by suggesting that the elderly are an unnecessary drain on the country’s finances.
“Taro Aso, the finance minister, said on Monday that the elderly should be allowed to ‘hurry up and die’ to relieve pressure on the state to pay for their medical care.
Aso is quoted saying, “Heaven forbid if you are forced to live on when you want to die. I would wake up feeling increasingly bad knowing that [treatment] was all being paid for by the government. The problem won’t be solved unless you let them hurry up and die.”
The Guardian continues, “To compound the insult, he referred to elderly patients who are no longer able to feed themselves as ‘tube people.’ The health and welfare ministry, he added, was ‘well aware that it costs several tens of millions of yen’ a month to treat a single patient in the final stages of life.”
Aso later said this was only his opinion and not policy.
Fine.
Let’s hope the 72 year-old Aso follows his own advice.

‘Carbon bombs’ set to ignite even more climate change.
The Guardian finds, “China and Australia top a global list of planned oil, gas and coal projects that will act as ‘carbon bombs’ and push the planet towards catastrophic climate change, a Greenpeace report warned on Tuesday.
“The Point of No Return study, by consultancy firm Ecofys for Greenpeace, calculated that the 14 giant fossil fuel projects would produce 6.3 gigatonnes of CO2 a year in 2020 – as much as the entire United States emits annually.
“The largest contributors will be China’s five north-western provinces, which aim to increase coal production by 620m tonnes by 2015, generating an additional 1.4bn tonnes of greenhouse gases a year.
“Australia’s burgeoning coal export industry, already the largest in the world, is in second place due to its potential growth to 408m tonnes of shipped resource a year by 2025, resulting in an annual 760m tonnes of CO2.
“Meanwhile, controversial exploitation of oil and gas reserves in the Arctic could release 520m tonnes of CO2 a year, with further major emissions set to flow from other new fossil fuel frontiers, such as tar sands oil in Canada and shale gas in the US.”
Let’s all hope that when the planet is destroyed our economy has grown enough so we can all go out in style.

While Prince Harry tells us he’s killed Taliban, the Taliban says he has a “mental problem.”
Bloomberg informs us, “Prince Harry, the third in line to the British throne, who has just ended a deployment with the army in Afghanistan, said he killed Taliban fighters there, to ‘take a life to save a life.’
“The prince, 28, a gunner in Apache helicopters, said he had taken the enemy ‘out of the game’ during his stint. He served in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, supporting allied troops fighting the Taliban at close quarters and accompanying British Chinook and U.S. Black Hawk helicopters on casualty evacuation missions.”
Agence France Presse adds, “Britain’s Prince Harry, who compared shooting insurgents in Afghanistan to playing video games, ‘has probably developed a mental problem,’ the Taliban said Tuesday.”
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said, “There are 49 countries with their powerful military failing in the fight against the mujahideen, and now this prince comes and compares this war with his games, PlayStation or whatever he calls it.”

While today’s last Circle of Hell! happened yesterday, it’s worth mentioning.
For the first time, most Americans want the US to protect legal abortion.
NBC finds, “As the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision takes place on Tuesday, a majority of Americans – for the first time – believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
“What’s more, seven in 10 respondents oppose Roe v. Wade being overturned, which is the highest percentage on this question since 1989.”
NBC continues, “According to the poll, 54 percent of adults say that abortion should be legal either always or most of the time, while a combined 44 percent said it should be illegal – either with or without exceptions.
“That’s the first time since this poll question was first asked in 2003 that a majority maintained that abortion should be legal. Previously (with just one exception in 2008), majorities said abortion should be illegal.
“In addition, a whopping 70 percent of Americans oppose the Roe v. Wade decision being overturned, including 57 percent who feel strongly about this.
“That’s up from the 58 percent who said the decision shouldn’t be overturned in 1989; the 60 percent who said this in 2002; and the 66 percent who said this in 2005.
“By comparison, just 24 percent now want the Roe v. Wade decision overturned, including 21 percent who feel strongly about this position.
“Much of this change, the NBC/WSJ pollsters say, is coming from African Americans, Latinos and women without college degrees — all of whom increasingly oppose the Supreme Court decision being overturned.
“The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Jan. 12-15 of 1,000 adults (including 300 cellphone-only respondents), and it has a margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.”
This is the kind of news that makes liberals feel the inevitable shift to the left is finally happening. Y’know, the same inevitable feeling they had after the Nixon-Ford administrations.

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Nine Circles of Hell! Tuesday: Old Wars and New Bombs
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