Thursday, July 9, 2009

Greenpeace climbers scale Mount Rushmore to Send Message to Obama

In this picture provided by the environmental group Greenpeace, Greenpeace climbers rappel down the face of Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, S.D. on Wednesday to unfurl a banner that challenges President Obama to show leadership on global warming. A federal prosecutor says a dozen people were taken into custody after the incident.
AP Photo

Global warming, world economies, and nuclear weapons have been the topics as the Obama administration moved on from the 2009 Moscow Start Talks to the G8 Economic Summit. The White House issued a fact sheet: Meeting the International Clean Energy and Climate Change Challenges, and held a press briefing.

"Every nation on this planet is at risk. And just as no one nation is responsible for climate change, no one nation can address it alone. That is why, back in April, I convened this forum of the world’s major economies – responsible for more than three-quarters of the world’s carbon pollution. And it is why we have gathered again here today." President Barack Obama, L'Aquila, Italy. July 9, 2009

The Status Quo is Not Sustainable, says U.S. Special Envoy Todd Stern
Overview of W.H. press release 7-9-09

Concerns about the US economic crisis aside, "You can't wait" on addressing climate change, the U.S. Special Envoy for International Economics, Todd Stern, told reporters gathered at an international press conference in L'Aquila, Italy, "I mean, the status quo is not a sustainable thing".

At the U.S. Press Filing Center in L'Aquila, Italy, U.S. Special Envoy for International Economics Todd Stern, held a press conference. The Group of Eight discussed how a process of global governance might be established, and Stern made a brief statement:

MR. STERN: Thanks very much. I'm just going to run very briefly through a few highlights from the declaration, and then we can go right to questions.

There were a number of key points, I think, that came out in the declaration agreed to by the 17 leaders. These include the agreement that global and national emissions should peak as soon as possible, that the MEF developed countries will undertake prompt action to produce robust reductions in their emissions in the midterm, consistent with their long-term ambitious goals -- in their case, 80 percent below by 2050.

The MEF developing countries agreed to take prompt action to reduce their emissions as compared to their "business as usual" trajectory in the midterm. The parties also agreed to prepare long-term low-carbon growth plans to guide their long-term development. They agreed to work between now and Copenhagen to arrive at a 2050 goal -- we talked about that a little bit yesterday. And also there was an agreement on reductions from deforestation.

There was an addition, an agreement to establish a global partnership to drive transformational technology development and a set of countries agreeing to take the lead in a number of different technologies. Also, a broad set of agreements with respect to the structure of a financing package -- not a number, but a structure, including a number of elements such as the sources of the financing, including the carbon markets and public sources as well, that the establishment of -- the set up of the fund should take advantage of existing institutions, should have balanced governance and the like. And there are also some important sentences with respect to adaptation.

So it was an overall declaration, it includes a number of important points, a number of the mitigation points that I just mentioned have never been agreed to before and I think that's -- and we can take questions.

Several reporters tried to offer what might be called a way out for leaders concerned about the burden of addressing global warming.

Question: (no name given) The ordinary American taxpayer may say, wait a minute, is this really the right time to impose a cap and trade system, to place a new tax on carbon when the U.S. economy is struggling to get out of the deepest recession since the Great Depression? I mean, can you address that, why there shouldn't even be some anxiety about that and that shouldn't at least in some way influence the debate about this issue?

MR. STERN: Sure. Sure. It's understandable that there's some anxiety about it, but there's a couple of points to be made and the President has made these points I think on many occasions.

First of all, the nature of the problem is such that you can't wait. I mean, the status quo is not a sustainable thing.

But secondly, there is -- you could put it aside, pretend that you can wait for some number of years, continue to lock in investment in high-carbon technology -- or you can take steps to build the kind of economy that is going to be sustainable, that is going to build a plant and equipment that's going to be able to last. It's the right economic move to make. If you don't make this you're going to end up spending more money a few years down the road.

So there's no point in having a huge, big stimulus effort which simply locks in old technology, locks in a high-carbon path -- which is completely unsustainable; science, unfortunately, is undoubtedly just going to get worse on this issue, not better -- and the plain reality, this is absolutely compellingly true for countries like China and India and everywhere else, as well as that the high carbon cap is simply untenable. And you're going to suffer economically -- not just in the environment -- you're going to suffer economically if you choose that path, because in not very many years, if it looks bad now it's going to look worse and it's going to be completely untenable.

So the President is making the right choice, and it is the right choice to move forward on this now, even though the anxiety people feel is quite understandable.

Q Mike, did the anxiety come up in the conversations? Did any of the member nations wonder aloud if this is really the right time, if another time, a better economic scenario might be wiser?

MR. FROMAN: I think the only instance in which it came up was a recognition that the challenge that the global community faces would be difficult under any circumstance. In the current economic circumstance, it is challenging, but that it's equally urgent. And as Todd said, it's not something that can be wait -- that can wait and just be put off for several years.

And I would just -- I just want to underscore one thing that Todd said earlier -- and, again, I hope you all have the fact sheet. The half-dozen specifics in the mitigation paragraph that were agreed to by developed and developing countries are really quite significant steps forward and quite significant contributions to the U.N. negotiations. It's not the end of the line. As Todd said, there's still negotiations to be had, there's still numbers to fill in. But those are things that have been agreed to for the first time by developing and developed countries alike, and really make a meaningful contribution towards the resolution of this issue.

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Francis A. Boyle on 2009 US -- Russia Start Talks

Talk Nation Radio for July 9, 2009

Francis A. Boyle on US and Russia Start Talks
History, perspective, and what's going on behind the scenes?

Many news reports have offered the conclusion that former President Vladimir Putin remains the real power in Russia today. They claim President Dmitri Medvedev is a figurehead. What about the power and authority of US President Barack Obama in Washington? Does he possess top control over foreign and military policy or diplomatic endeavors? Or might other forces within the Obama administration, the US Military, Pentagon, neoconservative advisory team, or military industry, retain the level of control they held under Bush/Cheney?

Professor Francis A. Boyle expresses hope that President Obama will make good on campaign promises about the use of diplomacy over the use of force, and that he will in fact negotiate new, binding weapons treaties for our century that can ensure peace.

Professor Boyle's book, "The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence," defines the stakes posed by weapons of mass destruction in a post 9/11 world. He clarifies the history of the Start Talks and talks about what is at stake in 2009. (Amazon Books and see more below)

Francis A. Boyle also critiques the Obama team's negotiations noting that special adviser to the President, Michael A. McFaul, announced America's decision against putting the ABMs on the table prior to the Start talks.

Produced by Dori Smith, Talk Nation Radio studios in Storrs, Connecticut
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Music by Fritz Heede, composer and musician who wrote and performed the soundtrack for the film, The Oil Factor.

International Law Professor Francis A Boyle joins us to talk about the Start Talks between US President Obama and Russian President Medvedev. [See related, G8 Summit, Addressing the Nuclear Threat, here, with Under Secretary of State Bill Burns, with the President at the G8 for portion on Iran, "because he's been so heavily involved in this, that he can walk you guys through what they're working on".]

What were the successes or failures of the preliminary Start Talks? What has been going on behind the scenes? What is the impact of having so many Neoconservatives on the White House team?

Francis A. Boyle has advised nations and societies at risk including Palestinians and the People of Bosnia and Herzegovina, at the ICC, International Criminal Court, and the People of Chechnya in a claim of genocide against Putin's Russia.

Francis A. Boyle is a leading expert on the crisis weapons of mass destruction create. He drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 and the American Implementing Legislation for The 1972 Biological Weapons Convention.

Bio: A scholar in the areas of international law and human rights, Professor Boyle received a J.D. degree magna cum laude and A.M. and Ph.D. degrees in political science from Harvard University. Prior to joining the faculty at the College of Law, he was a teaching fellow at Harvard and an associate at its Center for International Affairs. He also practiced tax and international tax with Bingham, Dana & Gould in Boston.

As an internationally recognized expert, Professor Boyle serves as counsel to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine. He also represents two associations of citizens within Bosnia and has been instrumental in developing the indictment against Slobodan Milosevic for committing genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Professor Boyle is Attorney of Record for the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, conducting its legal affairs on a worldwide basis. Over his career, he has represented national and international bodies including the Blackfoot Nation (Canada), the Nation of Hawaii, and the Lakota Nation, as well as numerous individual death penalty and human rights cases. He has advised numerous international bodies in the areas of human rights, war crimes and genocide, nuclear policy, and bio-warfare. (More on Professor Francis A. Boyle here.

Where to purchase books by Francis A. Boyle
Bookmasters, According to Bookmasters, "The 2002 book, The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence provides a succinct and detailed guide to understanding the arms race from Hiroshima/ Nagasaki through the SALT I, SALT II, ABM and START efforts at arms control, to Star Wars/National Missile Defense, U.S. unilateral abrogation of the ABM Treaty, and events in Afghanistan and beyond".

"It clarifies the relevant international law, from the Hague Conventions through the Nuremberg Principles to the recent World Court Advisory Opinion, as well as tracing contradictions in and contraventions of domestic guidelines established in the U.S. Army Field Manual of 1956 on The Law of Land Warfare, which remains the official primer for U.S. military personnel concerning the laws of war to which they must regard themselves as subject".

Accompanying story in Counterpunch by Francis A. Boyle here Bush Jr.'s Nuclear Sabre-Rattling: The Rogue Elephant, "In quick succession the world saw these Bush Jr Leaguers repudiate the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, the International Criminal Court, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), an international convention to regulate the trade in small arms, a verification Protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention, an international convention to regulate and reduce smoking, the World Conference Against Racism, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems Treaty, inter alia. To date the Bush Jr Leaguers have not found an international convention that they like. The only exception to this rule was their shameless exploitation of the 11 September 2001 tragedy in order to get the US House of Representatives to give Bush Jr so-called "fast-track" trade negotiation authority so as to present the American People and Congress with yet another non-amendable fait accompli on behalf of American multinationals, corporations, banks, insurance companies, the high-tech and biotech industries, Wall Street, etc. The epitome of "globalization," American-style".

Bookmasters, Using International Law to Clarify and Resolve the Israeli/ Palestinian Conflict, "No regional crisis has greater potential to affect world peace than the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. None has proved more intractable, and seemingly impossible to resolve. Yet, at the end of the day, most commentators agree that the only solution to the conflict lies in the creation of a viable Palestinian state under the guidance and norms of international law: only international law can provide an autonomous legal system capable of rendering objective judgment on the claims of the competing parties".

Special thanks to Professor Francis A. Boyle for spending time with us working to educate us on Obama policy and global events during early 2009. We are in your debt.

Press Notes:
Headline July 9, 2009 CNN BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- "The U.S. military has released five Iranian diplomats detained in Iraq since early 2007, the Iraqi government and Iran's embassy in Baghdad said Thursday.
-- The five have been transferred to Iraqi custody and were expected to be taken to the embassy. The U.S. military would only say it was looking into the report".

Robert Gibbs, July 9, 2009 From: THE WHITE HOUSE, Office of the Press Secretary U.S. Press Filing Center, L'Aquila, Italy

Robert, you all pretty much laid out yesterday what's -- especially on climate change -- what's going to be in the G8 language and the MEF language. What's in play today? Do you expect any movement on that front at all, or what's --
MR. GIBBS: Well, no, I mean, I think they'll just continue to work through that. I think they will -- I mean, obviously there are some meetings throughout the day on trade. Again, that was a topic that the President talked to President Lula about.
"I think obviously a lot of business was done on some of the major topics -- climate and Iran -- yesterday.

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Sprouts: Voices of Concern about Obama's MidEast Policies

This week's Sprouts: Voices of Concern about Obama's MidEast Policies
Produced by: Dori Smith and David Haseltine, WHUS Storrs, FM 91.7 at the University of Connecticut

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Thursday, July 9, 2009 3PM EST
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"Voices of Concern about Obama's MidEast Policies"

This week's stories: There are important conversations taking place in the US and around the world as the foreign policy strategies of President Obama andVice President Biden become more clear.

Peace activists, progressive Democrats, international scholars, and independent journalists who were critical of Bush and Cheney policies are growing more critical of Obama policies.

For instance, the U.S. is said to be withdrawing from Iraq, but is it a true withdrawal or will US forces remain in Iraq to operate US Military bases from which US forces can now prosecute a more regional war? Should the US continue the Afghan war and escalate it? What are the Obama administration's arguments? Should the US continue to militarize Pakistan, where US Military forces have been aiming drones at villages along the border to take out militants. A UK judge is criticizing the Obama administration for use of amoral weapons which are killing civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Finally, Iranian Americans have been using the word "pride" in discussing their sentiments about the protest movement in Iran after the election there. Is there a budding of new nationalism growing?

What will the impact of such a change be on Iranian and US policies? We spoke with Trita Parsi to get his thoughts on the potential down side for an Obama policy that seems to cultivate the demonstrations and opposition activities in Iran. The U.S. denies a role, however, Jeremy Hammond, editor of Foreign Policy Journal has raised questions of a continued role for the US State Dept. and other branches activated during the Bush years.

WHUS public affairs director David Haseltine looks at the post election demonstration movement with Professor Cyrus E. Zirakzadeh, an expert on Comparative Social Movements in the Political Science Department at the University of Connecticut. He talks about the people involved in the protest, the political figures, and offers his analysis on where Iranians go from here.

We also hear from:

Veteran for Peace Camillo Mac Bica, on US War operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Journalist Sherwood Ross of Anti War News Service.
Famed international lawyer Francis A. Boyle
Iranian American scholar Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council.
Jeremy Hammond, Editor of Foreign Policy Journal.

Vietnam Veteran and Vet for Peace Camillo Mac Bica has worked tirelessly to end US Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He finds himself frustrated by President Obama's arguments for escalating the Afghan War and using drones in Pakistan. And peace activists like Mac Bica are not alone in their sharp criticism of Obama policy. On July 6th one of Britains most senior judges, Lord Bingham, said the US drones used in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Gaza, as well as US cluster bombs and landmines, "are beyond the pale" and should probably be banned by the international community. His statement appears in British paper, The Independent. Sherwood Ross wrote a scathing indictment of the Afghan operation on July 3rd, condemning US Congress and the Obama administration, and calling the war illegal. He also looked at headlines about ongoing Salt Talks between President Obama and Russian President Medvedev, and he saw a down side to America's agreement for ongoing use of Russian territory to supply US forces in Afghanistan.

Sprouts is a weekly program that features local radio production and stories from many radio stations and local media groups around the world. It is produced in collaboration with community radio stations and independent producers across the country. The program is coordinated and distributed by Pacifica Radio and offered free of charge to all radio stations. For information, or if you would like to feature your work on Sprouts, contact Ursula Ruedenberg at

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