ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

Obama’s No Fault Foreign Policy

daily star LEB

It is exasperating to listen to American officials pontificate about events in the Middle East and offer what sounds like reasonable proposals to resolve the area’s problems, when those same officials and the entire political power structure they represent refuse to acknowledge that they have played a major role in creating or expanding those problems. This is why it is astounding to watch the United States now lead the military assault against ISIS by using the same techniques that contributed in a major way to the birth and growth of the militant Islamist ideology at the core of ISIS and its criminal deeds.

The latest example of this is a statement the U.S. State Department put out Monday quoting Secretary of State John Kerry.

He stated that “[t]he fight against violent extremism in the Middle East can only truly be won if there are clear and appealing alternatives.”

This simplistic statement sounds so logical and reasonable, but in fact is full of dishonesty and disgraceful critical omissions. I say this because the United States itself played a direct and clear role in helping to foment the spread of ISIS-style violent extremism by creating the conditions for it in 2003 when it invaded Iraq and wiped away the former Iraqi state and government. That war created chaotic conditions that provided an opening for Osama bin Laden to send Abu Musab al-Zarqawi into Iraq to set up a local branch of Al-Qaeda. This small group of killers and anti-Shiite Sunni sectarian extremists expanded slowly and eventually rebranded itself as ISIS.

Kerry’s statement is also problematic in mentioning the absence of alternatives. There are no strong alternatives in large part because for over half a century – and today still – the United States and other major foreign powers have enthusiastically supported Arab autocrats and tyrants whose disdain for their own citizens has been the single most important reason for the growth of ISIS-like mentalities and behavior. The status quo in the Middle East that the U.S. favored and supported for so long made it impossible for any alternatives to emerge.

Kerry’s simplistic statement Monday reveals either dishonesty or sheer ignorance, or perhaps a bit of both. That is truly troubling given that his country has a massive amount of military force that it unleashes regularly around the Middle East, most often leading to troubling conditions such as what we are witnessing in Iraq and Syria today. To then follow up with simplistic statements for public consumption in which he offers solutions to the problems the U.S. helped create is an incredible act of disregard for the basic intelligence and common sense of billions of people around the world who do not share the kind of political and intellectual dishonesty he displays in this case.

It is not the responsibility of the United States or any other foreign power to fix the problems of the Middle East, which are mainly home-grown and stem from over half a century of autocratic or dictatorial rule, massive incompetence and mismanagement in governance, rampant corruption, declining education quality, misguided militarism, environmental irresponsibility, and the trampling of the rule of law and citizens’ rights. The United States knew about all this and more, but nevertheless resolutely supported the political systems that ultimately drove many young people into the realm of Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

How can anyone possibly take seriously statements such as those of Kerry? Moreover, why does the United States keep insulting us and the world by making such statements that lack so much logic, credibility and veracity? Presumably, the answer is that the United States feels no real repercussions either from pursuing the corrosive policies it has for half a century, or from adding insult to injury by saying that we need attractive alternatives to stem the flow of our young men into killer movements such as ISIS.

This highlights the wider problem that we continue to suffer from in the Arab world’s relations with the U.S. and other major world powers. That is the perpetuation of colonial attitudes among both American and other foreign elites who toy with the Arab peoples, on the one hand, and Arab ruling elites who play the game of dependent colonial subject, on the other. ISIS represents one of the few fractures in that process that shatters the prevailing conditions of the past century, and, not surprisingly, frightens both Western and Arab rulers. Until those same Arab, Western and other foreign rulers accept that their shared policies were the main underlying reason that allowed ISIS and other such movements to come into being, statements such as Kerry’s this week will only be met with ridicule and disbelief, and have zero impact on anyone other than his poor press secretary who has to disseminate this kind of ridiculous nonsense.

Rami G. Khouri is published twice weekly by THE DAILY STAR. He can be followed on Twitter @RamiKhouri.

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“Not In Our Name!” 60 German Intellectuals Issue Appeal Against WWIII

Roman Herzog, Antje Vollmer, Wim Wenders, Gerhard Schröder and many other demanding an appeal for dialogue with Russia. ZEIT ONLINE documented the call.

Politik, Ukraine-Krise, Russland, Europa, Krieg, Gerhard Schröder, Horst Teltschik, Antje Vollmer, Bundesregierung, Eberhard Diepgen, Hans-Jochen Vogel, Klaus von Dohnanyi, Manfred Stolpe, Roman Herzog, Klaus Mangold, Mario Adorf, Moskau

American and Polish soldiers during an exercise in Poland in May 2014. | © Kacper Pempel / Reuters

More than 60 personalities from politics, economy, culture and media warn forcefully in an appeal against a war with Russia and calling for a new policy of détente in Europe. Their call they make to the federal government, members of parliament and the media.

Initiated the call by former Chancellor advisor Horst Teltschik (CDU), former defense secretary of state Walther Stützle (SPD) and former Vice-President of the Bundestag Antje Vollmer (Green). “We are talking about a political signal that the justified criticism of the Russian Ukraine’s policy does not mean that the progress we have achieved over the past 25 years in relations with Russia will be terminated,” Teltschik says the motivation for the appeal.

Have signed the text, inter alia, the former leaders of Hamburg, Berlin and Brandenburg, Klaus von Dohnanyi, Eberhard Diepgen and Manfred Stolpe, former SPD chairman Hans-Jochen Vogel, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, former German President Roman Herzog and actor Mario Adorf.

The call in the wording:

Another war in Europe? Not in our name!

No one wants war. But North America, the European Union and Russia inevitably drive up to him if they did not finally halt the disastrous spiral of threat and counter-threat stop. All Europeans, including Russia, have joint responsibility for peace and security. Only he who does not lose sight of this goal, avoiding wrong turns.

The Ukraine-conflict shows that the addiction to power and domination is not overcome. 1990 at the end of the Cold War, we were all hoping. But the success of the policy of detente and peaceful revolutions have made sleepy and careless. In East and West alike. When Americans, Europeans and Russians is the guiding principle to banish war from their relationship permanently lost. It is a different Russia menacing expansion of the West to the East without simultaneous deepening cooperation with Moscow, as well as the illegal annexation of the Crimea by Putin, not to explain.

In this moment of great danger for the continent Germany has a special responsibility for the preservation of peace. Without the reconciliation of the people of Russia, without the foresight of Mikhail Gorbachev, without the support of our Western allies and without the prudent action by the then Federal Government, the division of Europe had not been overcome. To allow the German unit peacefully, was a tall, shaped by reason gesture of the victorious powers. A decision of historic proportions. From overcome division a solid European peace and security from Vancouver to Vladivostok should grow up, as it had been agreed by all 35 Heads of State and Government of the CSCE Member States in November 1990 in the “Charter of Paris for a New Europe”. On the basis of agreed principles and first concrete measures a “common European home” should be established, in which all the States concerned should learn the same security. This goal of the post-war policy is not redeemed until today. People in Europe have to fear again.

We, the undersigned, call on the federal government to assume their responsibility for peace in Europe to meet. We need a new policy of détente in Europe. This is only possible on the basis of equal security for all and equal and mutually respected partners. The German government is no special way, if they continue to call in the stalemate for calm and dialogue with Russia. The need for security of the Russians is legitimate and severe as the Germans, the Poles, the Balts and the Ukrainians.

We must also urge European Russia. That would be unhistorical, unreasonable and dangerous for peace. Since the Congress of Vienna in 1814 Russia is a recognized global players in Europe. All who have tried to change that are violent, bloody failed – the last megalomaniac Hitler’s Germany, in 1941, murdering set out to subjugate Russia.

We call upon the Members of the German Bundestag, as delegated by the people politicians to be the seriousness of the situation, and attentive to watch via the peace obligation of the federal government. Who builds only enemy and tampered with unilateral blame, exacerbated tensions at a time in which the signals should be included on relaxation. Embed held exclude must be a guiding German politicians.

We appeal to the media, their obligation to comply with unprejudiced reporting more convincing than before. Editorialists and commentators demonize whole nations, without crediting the story enough. Each foreign policy savvy journalist will understand the fear of the Russians, invited members of NATO since 2008, Georgia and Ukraine to become members of the alliance. It’s not about Putin. State leaders come and go. Europe is at stake. It comes back to take the people’s fear of war. For this purpose, a responsible, based on solid research coverage can help a lot.

On October 3, 1990, the Day of German Unity, German President Richard von Weizsäcker said: “The Cold War is overcome freedom and democracy have soon enforced in all states … Now they can have their relationships so compact and secure institutional,.. that it is a common life and peace order can first be. so begins a completely new chapter for the peoples of Europe in their history. His goal is a pan-European project. It is a huge target. We can do it, but we can also miss . We are facing the clear alternative to some or fall back according painful historical examples again in nationalist conflicts Europe. “

Until Ukraine conflict we thought we were in Europe on the right track. Richard von Weizsäcker’s reminder is today, a quarter of a century later, more relevant than ever.

The signatories

Mario Adorf, Actor
Robert Antretter (Bundestag retd.)
Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bergmann (Vice – President of the Alma Mater Europaea)
Prince Luitpold of Bavaria (Royal Holding KG and license)
Achim von Borries (director and writer)
Klaus Maria Brandauer (actor, director)
Dr. Eckhard Cordes (Chairman of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations)
Prof. Dr. Herta Däubler-Gmelin (Minister of Justice Retired)
Eberhard Diepgen (Former Governing Mayor of Berlin)
Dr. Klaus von Dohnanyi (Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg)
Alexander van Dülmen (A-Board Company Filmed Entertainment AG)
Stefan Dürr (Managing Partner and CEO Ekosem-Agrar GmbH)
Dr. Erhard Eppler (Federal Minister for Development and Cooperation Retired)
Prof. Dr. Dr. Heino Falcke (Propst iR)
Prof. Hans-Joachim Frey (CEO Semper Opera Ball Dresden)
Father Anselm Grün (Father)
Sibylle Havemann (Berlin)
Dr. Roman Herzog (Former President)
Christoph Hein (writer)
Dr. Dr. hc Burkhard Hirsch (Bundestag Vice President aD)
Volker horns (Academy Director iR)
Josef Jacobi (organic farmer)
Dr. Sigmund Jähn (former astronaut)
Uli Jörges (journalist)
Prof. Margot Käßmann (former EKD Council President and Bishop)
Andrea von Knoop (Moscow)
Prof. Dr. Gabriele Krone-Schmalz (former correspondent for the ARD in Moscow)
Friedrich Küppersbusch (journalist)
Vera Gräfin von Lehndorff (artist)
Irina Liebmann (writer)
Dr. hc Lothar de Maizière (Former Prime Minister)
Stephan Märki (Director of the Theatre of Bern)
Prof. Dr. Klaus Mangold (Chairman Mangold Consulting GmbH)
Reinhard Mey and Hella (Songwriter)
Ruth Misselwitz (Protestant pastor Pankow)
Klaus Prömpers (journalist)
Prof. Dr. Konrad Raiser (eh. General Secretary of the World Council of Churches World)
Jim rocket (Photographer)
Gerhard Rein (journalist)
Michael Röskau (Secretary Retired)
Eugen Ruge (writer)
Dr. hc Otto Schily (Federal Minister of the Interior Retired)
Dr. hc Friedrich Schorlemmer (ev. Theologian, civil rights)
Georg Schramm (comedian)
Gerhard Schröder (Chancellor aD)
Philipp von Schulthess (Actor)
Ingo Schulze (writer)
Hanna Schygulla (actress, singer)
Dr. Dieter Spöri (Minister of Economics)
Prof. Dr. Fulbert Steffensky (Cath. Theologian)
Dr. Wolf-D. Stelzner (Managing Partner: Institute for WDS analyzes in cultures mbH)
Dr. Manfred Stolpe (Former Prime Minister)
Dr. Ernst-Jörg von Studnitz (Ambassador)
Prof. Dr. Walther Stützle (secretary of defense Retired)
Prof. Dr. Christian R. Supthut (Board Member Retired)
Prof. Dr. hc Horst Teltschik (former adviser at the Federal Office for Security and Foreign Policy)
Andres Veiel (director)
Dr. Hans-Jochen Vogel (Federal Minister of Justice Retired)
Dr. Antje Vollmer (Vice-President of the German Bundestag Retired)
Bärbel Wartenberg-Potter (Lübeck Bishop Retired)
Dr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker (scientists)
Wim Wenders (Director)
Wenzel (Songwriter)
Gerhard Wolf (writer, publisher)

Malaysia Gets International Permission To Investigate Downing of Its Own Aircraft

‘Malaysia plays crucial role in criminal probe’

new-straits-times

 

MALAYSIA’S participation as a full and equal member of the MH17 joint investigation team tasked with the criminal investigation into the downing of the Malaysia Airlines aircraft is expected to result in the identification of the perpetrators of the heinous act, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

He said the investigation was ongoing, with Malaysia jointly participating with the investigation teams from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine in the criminal and technical
investigation group.

“Our participation in the investigation is important and I am confident it can help the team find vital evidence to bring those responsible to justice,” he said after the Kojadi Institute convocation at Wisma MCA here yesterday.

Last Monday, the Attorney-General’s Chambers had said in a statement that Malaysia had been accepted as a full and equal member of the joint investigation team that focused on the criminal investigation into the downing of the MAS aircraft.

It was conveyed by the Netherlands National Public Prosecutor’s Office in a letter dated Nov 28 to Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail.

As part of the international criminal investigation process, Gani and Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar left for The Hague last Wednesday to attend the third Eurojust Coordination Meeting on the criminal investigation, which was scheduled last Thursday.

Flight MH17 is believed to have been shot down in Ukraine while flying from Amsterdam to here on July 17, and all 298 passengers, including 44 Malaysians, died in the crash.

On the intention of families of victims to take legal action against Malaysia, Liow said the government was prepared for any possibility.

However, he said, his ministry had yet to receive any information on the matter.

“I just returned from Chongqing, China, and have yet to receive any information related to these cases (filing of suits), but Malaysia is prepared to face any charge in court,” he said in response to a news portal report in the Daily Mail of the United Kingdom last Wednesday, which quoted news.com.au as saying that family members of eight of the MH17 victims from Australia would sue Russia, Ukraine and Malaysia.

Aviation lawyer Jerry Skinner, who will represent the eight Australian families from New South Wales, Canberra, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, was quoted as saying that he was awaiting information before filing the case at the European Court of Human Rights.

Skinner is known for his negotiation in a US$2.7 billion settlement (RM9.4 billion) for the 270 victims with Libya over the 1988 Lockerbie disaster. Bernama

On December 3 1984, Union Carbide Gas Sent 3,800 Souls Home To God

BHOPAL SOURCE

The Bhopal disaster and its aftermath: a review

NCBI

On December 3 1984, more than 40 tons of methyl isocyanate gas leaked from a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, immediately killing at least 3,800 people and causing significant morbidity and premature death for many thousands more. The company involved in what became the worst industrial accident in history immediately tried to dissociate itself from legal responsibility. Eventually it reached a settlement with the Indian Government through mediation of that country’s Supreme Court and accepted moral responsibility. It paid $470 million in compensation, a relatively small amount of based on significant underestimations of the long-term health consequences of exposure and the number of people exposed. The disaster indicated a need for enforceable international standards for environmental safety, preventative strategies to avoid similar accidents and industrial disaster preparedness.

Since the disaster, India has experienced rapid industrialization. While some positive changes in government policy and behavior of a few industries have taken place, major threats to the environment from rapid and poorly regulated industrial growth remain. Widespread environmental degradation with significant adverse human health consequences continues to occur throughout India.

December 2004 marked the twentieth anniversary of the massive toxic gas leak from Union Carbide Corporation’s chemical plant in Bhopal in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India that killed more than 3,800 people. This review examines the health effects of exposure to the disaster, the legal response, the lessons learned and whether or not these are put into practice in India in terms of industrial development, environmental management and public health.

History

In the 1970s, the Indian government initiated policies to encourage foreign companies to invest in local industry. Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) was asked to build a plant for the manufacture of Sevin, a pesticide commonly used throughout Asia. As part of the deal, India’s government insisted that a significant percentage of the investment come from local shareholders. The government itself had a 22% stake in the company’s subsidiary, Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) [1]. The company built the plant in Bhopal because of its central location and access to transport infrastructure. The specific site within the city was zoned for light industrial and commercial use, not for hazardous industry. The plant was initially approved only for formulation of pesticides from component chemicals, such as MIC imported from the parent company, in relatively small quantities. However, pressure from competition in the chemical industry led UCIL to implement “backward integration” – the manufacture of raw materials and intermediate products for formulation of the final product within one facility. This was inherently a more sophisticated and hazardous process [2].

In 1984, the plant was manufacturing Sevin at one quarter of its production capacity due to decreased demand for pesticides. Widespread crop failures and famine on the subcontinent in the 1980s led to increased indebtedness and decreased capital for farmers to invest in pesticides. Local managers were directed to close the plant and prepare it for sale in July 1984 due to decreased profitability [3]. When no ready buyer was found, UCIL made plans to dismantle key production units of the facility for shipment to another developing country. In the meantime, the facility continued to operate with safety equipment and procedures far below the standards found in its sister plant in Institute, West Virginia. The local government was aware of safety problems but was reticent to place heavy industrial safety and pollution control burdens on the struggling industry because it feared the economic effects of the loss of such a large employer [3].

At 11.00 PM on December 2 1984, while most of the one million residents of Bhopal slept, an operator at the plant noticed a small leak of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and increasing pressure inside a storage tank. The vent-gas scrubber, a safety device designer to neutralize toxic discharge from the MIC system, had been turned off three weeks prior [3]. Apparently a faulty valve had allowed one ton of water for cleaning internal pipes to mix with forty tons of MIC [1]. A 30 ton refrigeration unit that normally served as a safety component to cool the MIC storage tank had been drained of its coolant for use in another part of the plant [3]. Pressure and heat from the vigorous exothermic reaction in the tank continued to build. The gas flare safety system was out of action and had been for three months. At around 1.00 AM, December 3, loud rumbling reverberated around the plant as a safety valve gave way sending a plume of MIC gas into the early morning air [4]. Within hours, the streets of Bhopal were littered with human corpses and the carcasses of buffaloes, cows, dogs and birds. An estimated 3,800 people died immediately, mostly in the poor slum colony adjacent to the UCC plant [1,5]. Local hospitals were soon overwhelmed with the injured, a crisis further compounded by a lack of knowledge of exactly what gas was involved and what its effects were [1]. It became one of the worst chemical disasters in history and the name Bhopal became synonymous with industrial catastrophe [5].

Estimates of the number of people killed in the first few days by the plume from the UCC plant run as high as 10,000, with 15,000 to 20,000 premature deaths reportedly occurring in the subsequent two decades [6]. The Indian government reported that more than half a million people were exposed to the gas [7]. Several epidemiological studies conducted soon after the accident showed significant morbidity and increased mortality in the exposed population. Table Table1.1. summarizes early and late effects on health. These data are likely to under-represent the true extent of adverse health effects because many exposed individuals left Bhopal immediately following the disaster never to return and were therefore lost to follow-up [8].

Table 1

Health effects of the Bhopal methyl isocyanate gas leak exposure [8, 30-32].

Aftermath

Immediately after the disaster, UCC began attempts to dissociate itself from responsibility for the gas leak. Its principal tactic was to shift culpability to UCIL, stating the plant was wholly built and operated by the Indian subsidiary. It also fabricated scenarios involving sabotage by previously unknown Sikh extremist groups and disgruntled employees but this theory was impugned by numerous independent sources [1].

The toxic plume had barely cleared when, on December 7, the first multi-billion dollar lawsuit was filed by an American attorney in a U.S. court. This was the beginning of years of legal machinations in which the ethical implications of the tragedy and its affect on Bhopal’s people were largely ignored. In March 1985, the Indian government enacted the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act as a way of ensuring that claims arising from the accident would be dealt with speedily and equitably. The Act made the government the sole representative of the victims in legal proceedings both within and outside India. Eventually all cases were taken out of the U.S. legal system under the ruling of the presiding American judge and placed entirely under Indian jurisdiction much to the detriment of the injured parties.

In a settlement mediated by the Indian Supreme Court, UCC accepted moral responsibility and agreed to pay $470 million to the Indian government to be distributed to claimants as a full and final settlement. The figure was partly based on the disputed claim that only 3000 people died and 102,000 suffered permanent disabilities [9]. Upon announcing this settlement, shares of UCC rose $2 per share or 7% in value [1]. Had compensation in Bhopal been paid at the same rate that asbestosis victims where being awarded in US courts by defendant including UCC – which mined asbestos from 1963 to 1985 – the liability would have been greater than the $10 billion the company was worth and insured for in 1984 [10]. By the end of October 2003, according to the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department, compensation had been awarded to 554,895 people for injuries received and 15,310 survivors of those killed. The average amount to families of the dead was $2,200 [9].

At every turn, UCC has attempted to manipulate, obfuscate and withhold scientific data to the detriment of victims. Even to this date, the company has not stated exactly what was in the toxic cloud that enveloped the city on that December night [8]. When MIC is exposed to 200° heat, it forms degraded MIC that contains the more deadly hydrogen cyanide (HCN). There was clear evidence that the storage tank temperature did reach this level in the disaster. The cherry-red color of blood and viscera of some victims were characteristic of acute cyanide poisoning [11]. Moreover, many responded well to administration of sodium thiosulfate, an effective therapy for cyanide poisoning but not MIC exposure [11]. UCC initially recommended use of sodium thiosulfate but withdrew the statement later prompting suggestions that it attempted to cover up evidence of HCN in the gas leak. The presence of HCN was vigorously denied by UCC and was a point of conjecture among researchers [8,11-13].

As further insult, UCC discontinued operation at its Bhopal plant following the disaster but failed to clean up the industrial site completely. The plant continues to leak several toxic chemicals and heavy metals that have found their way into local aquifers. Dangerously contaminated water has now been added to the legacy left by the company for the people of Bhopal [1,14].

Lessons learned

The events in Bhopal revealed that expanding industrialization in developing countries without concurrent evolution in safety regulations could have catastrophic consequences [4]. The disaster demonstrated that seemingly local problems of industrial hazards and toxic contamination are often tied to global market dynamics. UCC’s Sevin production plant was built in Madhya Pradesh not to avoid environmental regulations in the U.S. but to exploit the large and growing Indian pesticide market. However the manner in which the project was executed suggests the existence of a double standard for multinational corporations operating in developing countries [1]. Enforceable uniform international operating regulations for hazardous industries would have provided a mechanism for significantly improved in safety in Bhopal. Even without enforcement, international standards could provide norms for measuring performance of individual companies engaged in hazardous activities such as the manufacture of pesticides and other toxic chemicals in India [15]. National governments and international agencies should focus on widely applicable techniques for corporate responsibility and accident prevention as much in the developing world context as in advanced industrial nations [16]. Specifically, prevention should include risk reduction in plant location and design and safety legislation [17].

Local governments clearly cannot allow industrial facilities to be situated within urban areas, regardless of the evolution of land use over time. Industry and government need to bring proper financial support to local communities so they can provide medical and other necessary services to reduce morbidity, mortality and material loss in the case of industrial accidents.

Public health infrastructure was very weak in Bhopal in 1984. Tap water was available for only a few hours a day and was of very poor quality. With no functioning sewage system, untreated human waste was dumped into two nearby lakes, one a source of drinking water. The city had four major hospitals but there was a shortage of physicians and hospital beds. There was also no mass casualty emergency response system in place in the city [3]. Existing public health infrastructure needs to be taken into account when hazardous industries choose sites for manufacturing plants. Future management of industrial development requires that appropriate resources be devoted to advance planning before any disaster occurs [18]. Communities that do not possess infrastructure and technical expertise to respond adequately to such industrial accidents should not be chosen as sites for hazardous industry.

Since 1984

Following the events of December 3 1984 environmental awareness and activism in India increased significantly. The Environment Protection Act was passed in 1986, creating the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and strengthening India’s commitment to the environment. Under the new act, the MoEF was given overall responsibility for administering and enforcing environmental laws and policies. It established the importance of integrating environmental strategies into all industrial development plans for the country. However, despite greater government commitment to protect public health, forests, and wildlife, policies geared to developing the country’s economy have taken precedence in the last 20 years [19].

India has undergone tremendous economic growth in the two decades since the Bhopal disaster. Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has increased from $1,000 in 1984 to $2,900 in 2004 and it continues to grow at a rate of over 8% per year [20]. Rapid industrial development has contributed greatly to economic growth but there has been significant cost in environmental degradation and increased public health risks. Since abatement efforts consume a large portion of India’s GDP, MoEF faces an uphill battle as it tries to fulfill its mandate of reducing industrial pollution [19]. Heavy reliance on coal-fired power plants and poor enforcement of vehicle emission laws have result from economic concerns taking precedence over environmental protection [19].

With the industrial growth since 1984, there has been an increase in small scale industries (SSIs) that are clustered about major urban areas in India. There are generally less stringent rules for the treatment of waste produced by SSIs due to less waste generation within each individual industry. This has allowed SSIs to dispose of untreated wastewater into drainage systems that flow directly into rivers. New Delhi’s Yamuna River is illustrative. Dangerously high levels of heavy metals such as lead, cobalt, cadmium, chrome, nickel and zinc have been detected in this river which is a major supply of potable water to India’s capital thus posing a potential health risk to the people living there and areas downstream [21].

Land pollution due to uncontrolled disposal of industrial solid and hazardous waste is also a problem throughout India. With rapid industrialization, the generation of industrial solid and hazardous waste has increased appreciably and the environmental impact is significant [22].

India relaxed its controls on foreign investment in order to accede to WTO rules and thereby attract an increasing flow of capital. In the process, a number of environmental regulations are being rolled back as growing foreign investments continue to roll in. The Indian experience is comparable to that of a number of developing countries that are experiencing the environmental impacts of structural adjustment. Exploitation and export of natural resources has accelerated on the subcontinent. Prohibitions against locating industrial facilities in ecologically sensitive zones have been eliminated while conservation zones are being stripped of their status so that pesticide, cement and bauxite mines can be built [23]. Heavy reliance on coal-fired power plants and poor enforcement of vehicle emission laws are other consequences of economic concerns taking precedence over environmental protection [19].

In March 2001, residents of Kodaikanal in southern India caught the Anglo-Dutch company, Unilever, red-handed when they discovered a dumpsite with toxic mercury laced waste from a thermometer factory run by the company’s Indian subsidiary, Hindustan Lever. The 7.4 ton stockpile of mercury-laden glass was found in torn stacks spilling onto the ground in a scrap metal yard located near a school. In the fall of 2001, steel from the ruins of the World Trade Center was exported to India apparently without first being tested for contamination from asbestos and heavy metals present in the twin tower debris. Other examples of poor environmental stewardship and economic considerations taking precedence over public health concerns abound [24].

The Bhopal disaster could have changed the nature of the chemical industry and caused a reexamination of the necessity to produce such potentially harmful products in the first place. However the lessons of acute and chronic effects of exposure to pesticides and their precursors in Bhopal has not changed agricultural practice patterns. An estimated 3 million people per year suffer the consequences of pesticide poisoning with most exposure occurring in the agricultural developing world. It is reported to be the cause of at least 22,000 deaths in India each year. In the state of Kerala, significant mortality and morbidity have been reported following exposure to Endosulfan, a toxic pesticide whose use continued for 15 years after the events of Bhopal [25].

Aggressive marketing of asbestos continues in developing countries as a result of restrictions being placed on its use in developed nations due to the well-established link between asbestos products and respiratory diseases. India has become a major consumer, using around 100,000 tons of asbestos per year, 80% of which is imported with Canada being the largest overseas supplier. Mining, production and use of asbestos in India is very loosely regulated despite the health hazards. Reports have shown morbidity and mortality from asbestos related disease will continue in India without enforcement of a ban or significantly tighter controls [26,27].

UCC has shrunk to one sixth of its size since the Bhopal disaster in an effort to restructure and divest itself. By doing so, the company avoided a hostile takeover, placed a significant portion of UCC’s assets out of legal reach of the victims and gave its shareholder and top executives bountiful profits [1]. The company still operates under the ownership of Dow Chemicals and still states on its website that the Bhopal disaster was “cause by deliberate sabotage”. [28].

Some positive changes were seen following the Bhopal disaster. The British chemical company, ICI, whose Indian subsidiary manufactured pesticides, increased attention to health, safety and environmental issues following the events of December 1984. The subsidiary now spends 30–40% of their capital expenditures on environmental-related projects. However, they still do not adhere to standards as strict as their parent company in the UK. [24].

The US chemical giant DuPont learned its lesson of Bhopal in a different way. The company attempted for a decade to export a nylon plant from Richmond, VA to Goa, India. In its early negotiations with the Indian government, DuPont had sought and won a remarkable clause in its investment agreement that absolved it from all liabilities in case of an accident. But the people of Goa were not willing to acquiesce while an important ecological site was cleared for a heavy polluting industry. After nearly a decade of protesting by Goa’s residents, DuPont was forced to scuttle plans there. Chennai was the next proposed site for the plastics plant. The state government there made significantly greater demand on DuPont for concessions on public health and environmental protection. Eventually, these plans were also aborted due to what the company called “financial concerns”. [29].

Conclusion

The tragedy of Bhopal continues to be a warning sign at once ignored and heeded. Bhopal and its aftermath were a warning that the path to industrialization, for developing countries in general and India in particular, is fraught with human, environmental and economic perils. Some moves by the Indian government, including the formation of the MoEF, have served to offer some protection of the public’s health from the harmful practices of local and multinational heavy industry and grassroots organizations that have also played a part in opposing rampant development. The Indian economy is growing at a tremendous rate but at significant cost in environmental health and public safety as large and small companies throughout the subcontinent continue to pollute. Far more remains to be done for public health in the context of industrialization to show that the lessons of the countless thousands dead in Bhopal have truly been heeded.

Competing interests

The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.

Acknowledgements

J. Barab, B. Castleman, R Dhara and U Misra reviewed the manuscript and provided useful suggestions.

References

  • Fortun K. Advocacy after Bhopal. Chicago , University of Chicago Press; 2001. p. 259.
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  • Shrivastava P. Bhopal: Anatomy of a Crisis. Cambridge, MA , Ballinger Publishing; 1987. p. 184.
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  • Mangla B. Long-term effects of methyl isocyanate. Lancet. 1989;2:103. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(89)90340-1. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
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  • Chander J. Water contamination: a legacy of the union carbide disaster in Bhopal, India. Int J Occup Environ Health. 2001;7:72–73. [PubMed]
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  • Vijay R, Sihorwala TA. Identification and leaching characteristics of sludge generated from metal pickling and electroplating industries by Toxicity Characteristics Leaching Procedure (TCLP) Environ Monit Assess. 2003;84:193–202. doi: 10.1023/A:1023363423345. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
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Articles from Environmental Health are provided here courtesy of BioMed Central

City of London Freaks, Frantic with Fear Over Impending Anti-Capitalist World Revolution

We-will-not-tolerate-this-system-any-more-it-is-time-for-a-world-revolution-together-we-will-change-the-world-join-us

Inclusive Capitalism Initiative is Trojan Horse to quell coming global revolt

guardian

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales talks to Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary fund, before the start of the Inclusive Capitalism Conference at the Mansion House on May 27, 2014 in London, United Kingdom.
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales talks to Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary fund, before the start of the Inclusive Capitalism Conference at the Mansion House on May 27, 2014 in London, United Kingdom. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images

Yesterday’s Conference on Inclusive Capitalism co-hosted by the City of London Corporation and EL Rothschild investment firm, brought together the people who control a third of the world’s liquid assets – the most powerful financial and business elites – to discuss the need for a more socially responsible form of capitalism that benefits everyone, not just a wealthy minority.

Leading financiers referred to statistics on rising global inequalities and the role of banks and corporations in marginalising the majority while accelerating systemic financial risk – vindicating the need for change.

While the self-reflective recognition by global capitalism’s leaders that business-as-usual cannot continue is welcome, sadly the event represented less a meaningful shift of direction than a barely transparent effort to rehabilitate a parasitical economic system on the brink of facing a global uprising.

Central to the proceedings was an undercurrent of elite fear that the increasing disenfranchisement of the vast majority of the planetary population under decades of capitalist business-as-usual could well be its own undoing.

The Conference on Inclusive Capitalism is the brainchild of the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), a little-known but influential British think tank with distinctly neoconservative and xenophobic leanings. In May 2012, HJS executive director Alan Mendoza explained the thinking behind the project:

“… we felt that such was public disgust with the system, there was a very real danger that politicians could seek to remedy the situation by legislating capitalism out of business.”

He claimed that HJS research showed that “the only real solutions that can be put forward to restore trust in the system, and which actually stand a chance of bringing economic prosperity, are being led by the private, rather than the public, sector.”

The Initiative for Inclusive Capitalism’s recommendations for reform seem well-meaning at first glance, but in reality barely skim the surface of capitalism’s growing crisis tendencies: giant corporations should invest in more job training, should encourage positive relationships and partnerships with small- and medium-sized businesses, and – while not jettisoning quarterly turnovers – should also account for ways of sustaining long-term value for shareholders.

The impetus for this, however, lies in the growing recognition that if such reforms are not pursued, global capitalists will be overthrown by the very populations currently overwhelmingly marginalised by their self-serving activity. As co-chair of the HJS Inclusive Capitalism taskforce, McKinsey managing director Dominic Barton, explained from his meetings with over 400 business and government leaders worldwide that:

“… there is growing concern that if the fundamental issues revealed in the crisis remain unaddressed and the system fails again, the social contract between the capitalist system and the citizenry may truly rupture, with unpredictable but severely damaging results.”

Among those “damaging results” – apart from the potential disruption to profits and the capitalist system itself – is the potential failure to capitalise on the finding by “corporate-finance experts” that “70 to 90 percent of a company’s value is related to cash flows expected three or more years out.”

Indeed, as the New York Observer reported after the US launch of the Henry Jackson Initiative for Inclusive Capitalism, the rather thin proposals for reform “seemed less important than bringing business leaders together to address a more central concern: In an era of rising income inequality and grim economic outlook, people seemed to be losing confidence in capitalism altogether.”

Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, who co-hosted yesterday’s conference, told the NY Observer why she was concerned:

“I think that a lot of kids have neither money nor hope, and that’s really bad. Because then they’re going to get mad at America. What our hope for this initiative, is that through all the efforts of all of the decent CEOs, all the decent kids without a job feel optimistic.”

Yep. Feel optimistic. PR is the name of the game.

“I believe that it is our duty to help make all people believe that the elevator is working for them… that whatever the station of your birth, you can get on that elevator to success,” de Rothschild told Chinese business leaders last year:

“At the moment, that faith and confidence is under siege in America… As business people, we have a pragmatic reason to get it right for everyone – so that the government does not intervene in unproductive ways with business… I think that it is imperative for us to restore faith in capitalism and in free markets.”

According to the very 2011 City of London Corporation report which recommended funding the HJS inclusive capitalism project, one of its core goals is undermining public support for “increased regulation” and “greater state” involvement in the economy, while simultaneously deterring calls to “punish those deemed responsible for having caused the crisis”:

“Following the financial crisis of 2008, the Western capitalist system has been perceived to be in crisis. Although the financial recovery is now underway in Europe and America, albeit unevenly and in some cases with the risk of further adjustments, the legacy of the sudden nature of the crash lives on.”

The report, written by the City of London’s director of public relations, continues to note that “the fabric of the capitalist system has come in for protracted scrutiny,” causing governments to “confuse the need for reasoned and rational change” with “the desire to punish those deemed responsible for having caused the crisis.” But this would mean that “the capitalist model is liable to have the freedoms and ideology essential to its success corroded.”

Far from acknowledging the predatory and unequalising impact of neoliberal capitalism, the document shows that the inclusive capitalism project is concerned with PR to promote “a more nuanced view of society,” without which “there is a risk that… we will be led down a policy path of increased regulation and greater state control of institutions, businesses and the people at the heart of them, which will fatally cripple the very system that has been responsible for economic prosperity.”

The project is thus designed “to influence political and business opinion” and to target public opinion through a “media campaign that seeks to engage major outlets.”

The Henry Jackson Initiative for Inclusive Capitalism is therefore an elite response to the recognition that capitalism in its current form is unsustainable, likely to hit another crisis, and already generating massive popular resistance.

Its proposed reforms therefore amount to token PR moves to appease the disenfranchised masses. Consequently, they fail to address the very same accelerating profit-oriented systemic risks that will lead to another financial crash before decade’s end.

Their focus, in de Rothschild’s words in the Wall Street Journal, is cosmetic: repairing “capitalism’s bruised image” in order to protect the “common long-term interests of investors and of the capitalist system.”

That is why the Inclusive Capitalism Initiative has nothing to say about reversing the neoliberal pseudo-development policies which, during capitalism’s so-called ‘Golden Age’, widened inequality and retarded growth for “the vast majority of low income and middle-income countries” according to a UN report – including “reduced progress for almost all the social indicators that are available to measure health and educational outcomes” from 1980 to 2005.

Instead, proposed ‘reforms’ offer ways to rehabilitate perceptions of powerful businesses and corporations, in order to head-off rising worker discontent and thus keep the system going, while continuing to maximise profits for the few at the expense of the planet.

This is not a surprise considering the parochial financial and political interests the Henry Jackson Society appears to represent: the very same neoconservative elites that lobbied for the Iraq War and endorse mass NSA surveillance of western and non-western citizens alike.

Indeed, there is little “inclusive” about the capitalism that HJS’ risk consultancy project, Strategic Analysis, seeks to protect, when it advertises its quarterly research reports on “the oil and gas sector in all twenty” countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Those reports aim to highlight “the opportunities for investors” as well as “risks to their business.”

Just last month, HJS organised a conference on mitigating risks in the Arab world to discuss “methods for protecting your business interests, assets and people,” including “how to plan against and mitigate losses… caused by business interruption.” The focus of the conference was protecting the invariably fossil fueled interests of British and American investors and corporates in MENA – the interests and wishes of local populations was not a relevant ‘security’ concern.

The conference’s several corporate sponsors included the Control Risks Group, a British private defence contractor that has serviced Halliburton and the UK Foreign Office in postwar Iraq, and is a member of the Energy Industry Council – the largest trade association for British companies servicing the world’s energy industries.

The “inclusivity” of this new brand of capitalism is also apparent in HJS’ longtime employment of climate denier Raheem Kassam, who now runs the UK branch of the American Breitbart news network, one of whose contributors called for Americans “to start slaughtering Muslims in the street, all of them.”

Perhaps the final nail in the coffin of HJS’ vision of capitalist “inclusivity” is associate director Douglas Murray’s views about Europe’s alleged Muslim problem, of which he said in Dutch Parliament: “Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board.”

Earlier this year, Murray’s fear-mongering targeted the supposed “startling rise in Muslim infants” in Britain, a problem that explains why “white British people” are “losing their country.” London, Murray wrote, “has become a foreign country” in which “‘white Britons’ are now in a minority,” and “there aren’t enough white people around” to make its boroughs “diverse.”

So abhorrent did the Conservative front-bench find Murray’s innumerable xenophobic remarks about European Muslims, reported Paul Goodman, the Tory Party broke off relations with his Center for Social Cohesion before he revitalised himself by joining forces with HJS.

Yet this is the same neocon ideology of “inclusive” market freedom around which the forces of global capitalism are remobilising, in the name of “sustainable” prosperity for all.

They must be having a laugh.

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is an international security journalist and academic. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, and the forthcoming science fiction thriller, Zero Point. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @nafeezahmed. [Emphasis in quotes was added]

Armed Drones Should Be Outlawed

[SEE: It takes 28 civilian lives to kill a single terrorist leader ]

campaign to stop killer robots

Killer Robots: Why the world should ban autonomous weapons systems

Cyprus mail

NYT_12Nov2014 source

By Mary Wareham

Nations around the world agreed in November to continue deliberations on “lethal autonomous weapons systems” – that is, weapons systems that would be able to select their targets and use force without any further human intervention.

There are serious concerns that fully autonomous weapons systems – or “killer robots,” as they are also called – would not be able to distinguish between soldiers and civilians, or judge whether a military action is proportional.

Countries could choose to deploy these weapons more frequently and with less critical consideration if they do not have to worry about sacrificing troops. Proliferation of these weapons systems could spin out of control easily, both for military and police use.

At the prompting of nongovernmental organizations and United Nations experts, discussions began earlier this year to address the many technical, legal, military, ethical, and societal questions relating to the prospect of lethal autonomous weapons systems.

The debate should be expected to deepen and broaden as the talks continue. The hope is that they will lead rapidly to formal negotiations on a new treaty pre-emptively banning weapons systems that do not require meaningful human control over the key functions of targeting and firing.

Such weapons in their fully autonomous form do not exist yet, but several precursors that are in development in the United States, China, Israel, Russia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and other nations with high-tech militaries demonstrate the trend toward ever-increasing autonomy on land, in the air, and on or under the water.

If the military robotic developments proceed unchecked, the concern is that machines, rather than humans, could ultimately make life-or-death decisions on the battlefield or in law enforcement.

By agreeing to keep talking, the 118 nations that are part of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), an existing international treaty, acknowledged the unease that the idea of such weapons causes for the public.

A new global coalition of nongovernmental organizations called the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots continues to pick up endorsements, with more than 275 scientists, 70 faith leaders, and 20 Nobel Peace laureates joining its ranks in calling for a pre-emptive ban on the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons. In August, Canada’s Clearpath Robotics became the first private company to endorse the campaign and pledge not to knowingly develop and manufacture such weapons systems.

The UN expert on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, has called on all countries to adopt a moratorium on these weapons. Austria has urged nations engaged in the development of such weapons systems to freeze these programs, and has called on nations deliberating about starting such development to make a commitment not to do so.

Talking about the issue is good, but diplomacy is moving at a slow pace compared with the rapid technological developments. The commitment of the CCW talks – a week of talks over the course of an entire year – is unambitious. It is imperative for diplomatic talks to pick up the pace and create a new international treaty to ensure that humans retain control of targeting and attack decisions.

In the meantime, nations need to start establishing their own policies on these weapons, implementing bans or moratoriums at a national level.

The United States has developed a detailed policy on autonomous weapons that, for now, requires a human being to be “in the loop” when decisions are made about using lethal force, unless department officials waive the policy at a high level. While positive, the policy is not a comprehensive or permanent solution to the problems posed, and it may prove hard to sustain if other nations begin to deploy fully autonomous weapons systems.

One thing is clear: Doing nothing and letting ever-greater autonomy in warfare proceed unchecked is no longer an option.

unnamedMary Wareham is advocacy director of the Human Rights Watch Arms Division, where she leads HRW’s advocacy against particularly problematic weapons that pose a significant threat to civilians. She is also serving as the global coordinator of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

This article first appeared in http://www.themarknews.com

American Hero-Worship of Alleged Bin Laden Killer Proof That We Are Barbarians

[It doesn’t matter whether this Seal braggart was confessing his exploits killing bin Laden or one of his stage doubles, he is still a barbarian killer.]

Praise for killer exposes Americans as barbarians

THE japan-times2
by Ted Rall

 

France is grappling with the damage to its reputation as the global capital of intellectualism after the nation’s minister of culture sheepishly confessed that she doesn’t read books. “Barbarism is here,” declared the writer Claude Askolovitch. “If one can be culture minister without reading, then we are mere technocrats and budgeters.”

Oui.

Evidament.

At least there are still some among the French who care about their nation’s image.

Here in the United States, the face of barbarism appeared in the banal form of Robert O’Neill, a former Navy SEAL who claimed on Fox News to have been the SEAL Team Six member who shot the fatal shots that killed Osama bin Laden.

O’Neil is very proud of himself. “Standing on two feet in front of me, with his hands on his wife’s shoulders behind her was the face that I’d seen thousands of times, UBL,” O’Neill told Fox. “Very quickly I recognized him and then it was just pop, pop pop.”

Military men, including some of O’Neill’s former comrades, criticized him for speaking publicly about a classified operation, going against SEAL tradition. Others questioned whether he really fired the fatal shots.

But no one went after him for being, you know — a first-degree murderer. (Since four other people were killed in the raid, it’s probably closer to the truth to say mass murderer.)

What happened to America? We used to have morals. We celebrated Rosa Parks. Assassins were scum.

As recently as the 1980s, a right-wing president, Reagan, signed an executive order banning political assassinations. Which is exactly what the bin Laden rubout was.

There was never any intention to try to capture bin Laden alive. To the contrary — an eyewitness, bin Laden’s daughter, says the al-Qaida leader was captured alive, then blown away, mafia-style. The man — in this crime, which is what it was, we have to call him the victim — was certainly unarmed. We’ll never know for sure, since no medical examiner got a peek at the victim’s body before it was dumped into the ocean.

The assassination of bin Laden diminished what little was left of America’s moral authority. Calling it “justice” was a mockery of law and due process. It also denied his victims their right to see the facts about his alleged — since he was never tried, we have to say alleged — crimes revealed in open court.

As Geoffrey Robertson wrote at the time: “The U.S. is celebrating summary execution, rationalized on the basis that this is one terrorist for whom trial would be unnecessary, difficult, and dangerous. It overlooks the downsides: that killing bin Laden has made him a martyr, more dangerous in that posthumous role than in hiding, and that both his legend and the conspiracy theories about 9/11 will live on undisputed by the evidence that would have been called to convict him at his trial.”

The operation was, without question, illegal. If the U.S. were a nation of equal justice under the law, everyone involved, from O’Neill to the president, would face murder charges.

I don’t care how you feel about bin Laden. Assassinating him was disgusting, might-makes-right bullshit.

If anyone in the media agrees with me, however, I can’t find them.

“If [O’Neill] killed bin Laden, then he deserves the recognition that comes with it. … I say, ‘Well done, O’Neill, tell it like it is and let them howl. They’ll criticize you no matter what. Hooyah,’ ” wrote an editorial writer in the otherwise charming town of Saint George, Utah. Time magazine called the shooting of an unarmed suspect (while invading a foreign country, by the way) an “action that warrants … acclaim.”

Don’t forget the hit film “Zero Dark Thirty,” which portrayed the bin Laden murder — as well as the torture that preceded it — as heroic.

What happened to us?

Top Nazis, responsible for a lot more deaths than 9/11, were put on trial at Nuremberg. Just two decades ago, it would have been impossible to imagine that a state-sponsored assassin would garner praise for his role in a “wet op” (as long as he really did it).

Or that a president would brag about ordering it. (“Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive,” Vice President Biden crowed.)

Or that said president would enjoy a bump in his polls as a result (as opposed to a knock on the door from the FBI).

ISIS? Mere pikers.

Barbarism, c’est nous.

Cartoonist and writer Ted Rall is author of “After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan.” © 2014 Ted Rall

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