Wednesday, August 25 Nine Circles of Hell!


The Nine Circles of Hell! – all the news that gives you fits in print – for Wednesday, August 25, 2010 – including a bonus link to the New York City cabbie stabber’s movie trailer – are:

Wikileaks to release ‘secret’ CIA report

Shell-funded UN report exonerates company for Niger pollution

Court says Shell, BASF contaminated Brazilian workers

Iraqi insurgents ‘stepping up’ their ‘seemingly coordinated’ attacks

On eve of peace talks, Israeli minister supports new settlements

Nobody knows who is behind gas attacks on Afghan schoolgirls

Floods now lynching fuels fears Pakistan can’t care for its citizens

New York City cab driver stabbed by anti-Muslim passenger

Anti-Muslim ads still on Chicago cabs weeks after removal request

Wikileaks to release ‘secret’ CIA report

WikiLeaks releases ‘CIA report’ Wednesday

The whistleblower website WikiLeaks on Wednesday posted what it said was an internal CIA report into the perception that the United States exports terrorism.

The three-page document, dated February 2, 2010, asks “What If Foreigners See the United States as an ‘Exporter of Terrorism?’ ”

The document is labeled “secret,” the lowest level of classification.

The CIA did not immediately comment on the release.

The group posted a message on its Twitter page Tuesday that it would “release” a “CIA paper tomorrow” …

Founder and editor of the website, Julian Assange, was arrested in absentia last week in Sweden on charges of rape. The warrant was revoked less than a day later by Chief Prosecutor Eva Finne.

Assange told the Arabic-language television network Al-Jazeera on Sunday the accusations are “clearly a smear campaign.”

“The only question is, who was involved?” he asked, declining to say who he thinks is behind the effort.

Separately on Tuesday, the attorney for the alleged victims told CNN rumors that the Pentagon or CIA was somehow involved in the sex crime accusations against Assange are “complete nonsense” …

As WikiLeaks has grown and published increasingly high-profile items, Assange has found himself the target of what he says are many legal attacks.

Shell-funded UN report exonerates company for Niger pollution

Outrage at UN decision to exonerate Shell for oil pollution in Niger delta

Past This is Hell! guest John Vidal writes …

A three-year investigation by the United Nations will almost entirely exonerate Royal Dutch Shell for 40 years of oil pollution in the Niger delta, causing outrage among communities who have long campaigned to force the multinational to clean up its spills and pay compensation.

The $10m (£6.5m) investigation by the UN environment programme (UNEP), paid for by Shell, will say that only 10% of oil pollution in Ogoniland has been caused by equipment failures and company negligence, and concludes that the rest has come from local people illegally stealing oil and sabotaging company pipelines.

The shock disclosure was made by Mike Cowing, the head of a UN team of 100 people who have been studying environmental damage in the region.

Cowing said that the 300 known oil spills in the Ogoniland region of the delta caused massive damage, but added that 90% of the spills had been caused by “bunkering” gangs trying to steal oil.

His comments, in a briefing in Geneva last week, have caused deep offence among the families of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight other Ogoni leaders who were hanged by the Nigerian government in 1995 after a peaceful uprising against Shell’s pollution.

With 606 oil fields, the Niger delta supplies 8.2% of the crude oil imported by the US. Life expectancy in its rural communities, half of which have no access to clean water, has fallen to little more than 40 over the past two generations.

Communities accept that bunkering has become rife in some areas of Ogoniland, but say this is a recent development and most of the historical pollution has been caused by Shell operations …

The full report, due to be published by December, is expected to warn of an environmental catastrophe.

“This is not directly comparable to the spills that occurred in the Gulf [of Mexico],” said Cowing. “But we have a serious and profound problem.”

Tonight, environmental groups expressed shock at the report. Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends the Earth International and director of Environmental Rights Action, Nigeria’s leading environment group, said: “It is incredible that the UN says that 90% is caused by communities. The UNEP assessment is being paid for by Shell. Their conclusions may be tailored to satisfy their client. We monitor spills regularly and our observation is the direct opposite of what UNEP is planning to report.”

A June 2009 report by Amnesty International called the damage in the delta a “human rights tragedy”, and blamed the government and oil firms, mainly Shell, for years of pollution. It recognised that oil bunkering had caused spills, but said “the scale of this problem is not clear”.

Court says Shell, BASF contaminated Brazilian workers
Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Thousands exposed to Shell’s toxic waste in Brazil

Former workers at a Brazilian chemical plant operated by Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell are relieved that a court has ordered the company to pay hundreds of millions of euros in compensation for their exposure to toxic substances.

Workers at the plant suffered health problems including high blood pressure and cancer. The factory in the Paulinia district of São Paulo, founded by Shell in 1977 and later taken over by German chemical giant BASF, was closed down in 2002.

The court ruled that Shell and BASF should help pay for the treatment of physical and mental health problems suffered by the ex-workers and their families.

In the early 1990s an international research agency found that the land and groundwater around the factory were contaminated with pesticides. The substances are known to be carcinogenic and affect the central nervous system.

Later, in 2001, the Brazilian branch of Greenpeace issued a report which stated that the site was heavily polluted and that people living in the area were exposed to the toxic waste.

Shell initially admitted the pollution came from its factory, says Bruno Brocchi, a lawyer representing some of the plaintiffs. “But once the workers and their families started to take Shell to court, its position changed and they have since said that none of the plaintiffs have been able to actually provide hard evidence of the resulting damages to their health”, he told RNW.

Mr Brocchi says that early reports already showed that the soil, the waterbed and the land in the Paulinia area were contaminated “due to the handling of toxic chemicals, many of which were already forbidden in a great number of countries throughout the world”.

Iraqi insurgents ‘stepping up’ their ‘seemingly coordinated’ attacks
The Associated Press

Devastating series of attacks across Iraq kill 55

Bombers and gunmen killed 55 Iraqis in two dozen attacks spanning the country Wednesday, mostly targeting security forces in seemingly coordinated strikes the day after the number of U.S. troops fell below 50,000 for the first time since the start of the war.

Insurgents have been stepping up their attacks on Iraq’s security forces in recent months as the U.S. has trimmed its military presence in the country. At least half of those killed — 31 — were Iraqi soldiers and policemen.

There were no claims of responsibility for the spate of attacks. But their scale and reach, from one end of the country to the other, underscored insurgent efforts to prove their might against security forces and political leaders who are charged with the day-to-day running and stability of Iraq.

The deadliest attack came in Kut, 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, where a suicide bomber blew up a car inside a security barrier between a police station and the provincial government’s headquarters. Police and hospital officials said 19 people were killed, 15 of them policemen. An estimated 90 people were wounded.

On eve of peace talks, Israeli minister supports new settlements

Lieberman: Settlement building should restart in September

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday that there was no reason why building should not restart in the major West bank settlement after a 10-month freeze expires next month.

The determination to continue building is likely to alarm Palestinians, who are pushing for an Israeli promise to continue the freeze ahead of peace talks in Washington, due to start on September 2.

Palestinian negotiators have repeatedly threatened to walk out of talks if the freeze is broken.

Nobody knows who is behind gas attacks on Afghan schoolgirls
Al Jazeera

‘Gas poisoning’ hits Afghan girls

Dozens of students and teachers at a girls’ school in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, have been sickened by an unknown gas that spread through classrooms, education officials say.

Wednesday’s incident follows a similar pattern seen in other recent attacks at girls’ schools involving an airborne substance which officials say could be some form of gas …

“It looks like it is another case of gas poisoning, but it is being investigated now,” Asif Nang, a spokesman for the education ministry said.

The Afghan government, however, did not suggest who may have been responsible for the apparent attack …

Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Kabul, said the incident is the latest in a series of attacks against schoolgirls.

“This has happened a couple of times before, mainly in the northern province of Kunduz. At the time, it was also said, that these girls were poisoned and officials pointed the finger at the Taliban and rightly so,” she said.

“However, there is still no hard conclusion on who is behind this attack and what kind of poisoning is taking place.”

The Taliban banned education for girls during their Afghan rule from 1996-2001, but have condemned similar attacks in the past.

Floods now lynching fuels fears Pakistan can’t care for its citizens
Daily Mail

Video of lynch mob killing two teenage brothers sparks mass demonstrations across Pakistan

A horrifying video of a crowd watching a mob beat two teenage brothers to death has sparked mass demonstrations in Pakistan.

The video, broadcast on Pakistani news channels, shows a lynch mob taking turns to savagely beat the two boys with sticks, drawing blood from them before dragging and hanging their dead bodies from a nearby pole.

But perhaps just as shocking is that none of the dozens of people and police watching tried to stop the vicious attack.

It is now thought the boys, who were on their way to play cricket in Sialkot, an eastern Punjab province, may have been mistaken for robbers by the group who decided to deliver brutal justice for their supposed crime last Sunday.

The scenes have outraged Pakistanis, some who are questioning how their society could passively watch the shocking killings without intervening.

The News, an English-language daily newspaper, wrote: ‘Is this what we are? Savages? So utterly bereft of a speck of humanity that a crowd of ordinary men are passive spectators to public murder?’

The government has responded to the attack after civic groups condemned the killings and youths held demonstrations.

As details have emerged authorities appear increasingly confident the two boys – Moiz Butt, 17, and his brother Muneeb, 15 – were innocent.

The two went to play cricket after praying and eating breakfast, carrying a bag with them containing game equipment, said Mujahid Sherdil, a top government official in the district.

They were sons of a middle-class man who deals in fabric for soccer balls. Moiz was honoured with the title ‘Hafiz’ for having memorized the Muslim holy book, the Quran.

An armed robbery had taken place in the vicinity of the cricket field so residents were on alert and police were nearby.

When the boys appeared with a bag they were thought to be the robbers Mr Sherdil said.

He added, however, that more information was still being sought.

The boys were believed to have been in fights over the past few days for the right to play on the cricket ground, which was about a mile from their home …

The brothers’ killings came as Pakistan’s government is reeling from other crises, including the worst flooding in decades. The calamity appears to have further eroded confidence in the government.

One newspaper commentator Ghazi Salahuddin wrote that the Sialkot attack and the desperation of the poor caught in the floods that have ravaged the country are “rooted in the potential inability of the state to protect and look after the citizens.’

New York City cab driver stabbed by anti-Muslim passenger
The New York Times

Man Is Held in Anti-Muslim Stabbing of Cabdriver

A cabdriver was attacked by a knife-wielding passenger who made anti-Muslim remarks on Tuesday evening, the police said.

The passenger, Michael Enright, 21, of Brewster, N.Y., hailed the cab at Second Avenue and East 24th Street around 6 p.m. Tuesday, the police said. Twenty blocks north, they said, he slashed and stabbed the 43-year-old driver in his throat, face and arm.

The driver, identified by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance as Ahmed H. Sharif, 43, stopped the cab and approached a police officer on Third Avenue near 42nd Street. Mr. Enright was arrested at the scene.

According to the taxi workers’ alliance, Mr. Sharif’s fare started the ride asking him in a friendly way if he was Muslim, whether he was observing Ramadan, and how long he had been in the United States.

After falling silent for a few minutes, the passenger began cursing and screaming, and then yelled, “Assalamu alaikum — consider this a checkpoint!” and slashed Mr. Sharif across the neck, and then on the face from his nose to his upper lip, the alliance said.

Both men were taken to Bellevue Hospital Center. The driver was in stable condition. A law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said Mr. Enright was “very drunk” at the time of the attack.

“I feel very sad,” Mr. Sharif said in a statement released by the taxi workers’ alliance. “I have been here more than 25 years. I have been driving a taxi more than 15 years. All my four kids were born here. I never feel this hopeless and insecure before.”

He added that “right now, the public sentiment is very serious” because of tensions over Park51, the proposed Islamic center that some critics call the “ground zero mosque.”

  • The stabber is an aspiring filmmaker working on a documentary that follows a high school buddy’s unit in the Afghanistan war. In retrospect – and considering Enright saying, “consider this a checkpoint” to the cab driver before stabbing him – we’re certain you’ll get a little chill while watching the trailer for his movie, “Home of the Brave.” So, click here.

Anti-Muslim ads still on Chicago cabs weeks after removal request
Chicago Tribune

Yellow Cab to stop running anti-Islam ads

Yellow Cab Chicago requested today that a fleet of taxis remove controversial anti-Islam ads.

The ads, sponsored by the group Stop of Islamization of America, appeared on 25 Chicago cabs this summer.

Beside pictures of young women who were allegedly killed by their Muslim fathers for refusing an Islamic marriage, dating a non-Muslim or becoming “too Americanized” was the message: “Is your family threatening you?” The placards also displayed the Web address

Michael Levine, the CEO of Yellow Cab Chicago, said the signs were offensive to the city’s taxi drivers, an estimated half of whom are Muslim.

The ads were carried by independent Yellow Cab affiliates, Levine said in a statement. The fleet owner was paid by a company that specializes in advertising atop taxis.

When Yellow Cab learned of the placards three weeks ago, it called the advertising company and asked to have the ads removed, according to Levine. Yellow Cab was told they were taken down, but found out Tuesday that three ads were still running atop taxis.

“They will be removed,” Levine said. “Yellow Cab does not regularly approve advertising content carried by our affiliates, but we do reserve the right to ask them to remove ads that offend either the drivers or the public.”

Although the ads appeared to offer a safe haven for young women who want to leave Islam, critics contend the signs stoked fear among passengers and passers-by about the way many of the city’s taxi drivers worship.