Daily Archives: January 25, 2008

Bono confesses sins to ‘father’ Al Gore

Irish rock singer Bono listens to former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore (on screen) during a session on “A Unified Earth Theory” at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 24, 2008.

AFP | Jan 23, 2008

DAVOS, Switzerland – Having climate campaigner Al Gore round to your house is to open yourself to a self-flagellating guilt trip, Irish rock star Bono confessed Thursday.

Sharing a stage with the former US vice president at the annual gathering of world movers and shakers in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, the U2 frontman joked that their friendship was a source of pressure on the domestic front.

“He’s been round my house and it’s like… here’s the recycler Al, you know… I’ve got a posh car, but it runs on ethanol Al,” Bono said.

Acknowledging that a career in rock music was not always conducive to a green lifestyle, Bono compared a conversation with Gore to an act of religious contrition.

“It’s like being with an Irish priest. You start to confess your sins,” he said. “Father Al, I am not just a noise polluter, I am a noise-polluting, diesel-soaking, gulfstream-flying rock star.

“I’m going to kick the habit. I’m trying father Al, but oil has been very good for me — those convoys of articulated lorries, petrochemical products, hair gel.”

Bono and Gore were in Davos to push their respective campaigns for poverty alleviation and reducing carbon emissions.

. . .


Is Global Warming a Sin?

The Nation | April 26, 2007

by Alexander Cockburn

In a couple of hundred years historians will be comparing the frenzies over our supposed human contribution to global warming to the tumults at the latter end of the tenth century as the Christian millennium approached. Then as now, the doomsters identified human sinfulness as the propulsive factor in the planet’s rapid downward slide. Then as now, a buoyant market throve on fear. The Roman Catholic Church sold indulgences like checks. The sinners established a line of credit against bad behavior and could go on sinning. Today a world market in “carbon credits” is in formation. Those whose “carbon footprint” is small can sell their surplus carbon credits to others less virtuous than themselves.

The modern trade is as fantastical as the medieval one. There is still zero empirical evidence that anthropogenic production of carbon dioxide is making any measurable contribution to the world’s present warming trend. The greenhouse fearmongers rely on unverified, crudely oversimplified models to finger mankind’s sinful contribution–and carbon trafficking, just like the old indulgences, is powered by guilt, credulity, cynicism and greed.

Global Warming: Religion, not Science

Chilling truth about ‘global warming’ hypocrisy

Hershey Pulls Candy That Resembles Bags of Heroin and Cocaine


In this file photo from Nov. 2007, a Hershey Co.’s Ice Breakers Pacs product containing nickel-sized dissolvable pouches with a mint flavored powdered sweetener inside, is photographed in Harrisburg, Pa. The Hershey Co. is halting production of Ice Breakers Pacs in response to criticism that the mints look too much like illegal street drugs, the company’s president and chief executive officer, David J. West, said Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

AP | Jan 23, 2008


HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) — The Hershey Co. is halting production of Ice Breakers Pacs in response to criticism that the mints look too much like illegal street drugs, the company’s president and chief executive officer said Thursday.

Hershey CEO David J. West disclosed the decision during a conference call about the company’s newly released fourth-quarter earnings report.

Ice Breakers Pacs, which first hit store shelves in November, are nickel-sized dissolvable pouches with a powdered sweetener inside. The pouches come in blue or orange and bear the Ice Breakers logo.

Members of Philadelphia’s police narcotics squad said the mints closely resemble tiny heat-sealed bags used to sell powdered street drugs. They charged that the consequences could be serious if, for example, a child familiar with the mints found a package of cocaine.

“Some community and law-enforcement leaders have expressed concern” about the shape of pouch and the Xylitol sweetener inside, and about the possibility of the mints being mistaken for illegal substances, West said.

The resemblance to illegal street drugs is remarkable

“We are sensitive to these viewpoints and thus have made the decision that we will no longer manufacture Ice Breakers Pacs,” he said.

Ice Breakers Pacs remain on store shelves but are expected to be sold out early this year and no more are being made, West said. Kirk Saville, a company spokesman, said they had been distributed nationally on a limited basis.

Hershey has said the mints were not intended to resemble anything, and West said consumers who tested and purchased the product liked it.

Linda Wagner, a narcotics officer with the Philadelphia police whose daughter died of a heroin overdose in 2001, had protested the product in letters to both company and government officials. She said she was pleased by Hershey’s decision but questioned why it took so long.

“I will not buy a Hershey’s product” again, she said. “I think they were really irresponsible” in marketing the product.

Bill Katzel, a community activist who lives near Tucson, Ariz., and worked with Wagner in fighting Ice Breakers Pacs, said the product remains widely available at stores near him.

“A better solution would have been a total recall of this product,” said Katzel, a retired medical administrator for the federal government.

F-16s Were in Area Where UFO Reported


The announcement did little to satisfy residents of Texas dairy country who swear that what they saw in the sky Jan. 8 was no airplane. Some said it even bolstered their claims, because several people reported seeing at least two fighter jets chasing an object. (Getty Images/AP Photo)

Military Reverses Itself, Says F-16s Were in Texas Area Where Residents Reported Seeing UFO

AP | Jan 23, 2008

By ANGELA K. BROWN Associated Press Writer

FORT WORTH, Texas – Fighter jets were training nearby the night dozens of Stephenville-area residents reported seeing a UFO this month, Air Force Reserve officials said Wednesday, backtracking on earlier statements.

The announcement did little to satisfy residents of Texas dairy country who swear that what they saw in the sky Jan. 8 was no airplane. Some said it even bolstered their claims, because several people reported seeing at least two fighter jets chasing an object.

“This supports our story that there was UFO activity in that area,” said Kenneth Cherry, the Texas director of the Mutual UFO Network, which took more than 50 reports from locals at a meeting last weekend. “I find it curious that it took them two weeks to ‘fess up. I think they’re feeling the heat from the publicity.”

Officials at the Joint Reserve Base Naval Air Station in Fort Worth initially said none of their planes had been in the area, but on Wednesday they said 10 F-16s were there that day. The officials said they were mistaken and wanted to set the record straight “in the interest of public awareness.”

Maj. Karl Lewis, a spokesman for the 301st Fighter Wing at the base, declined to comment on the nature of the military training or say whether it took place on other days.

Lewis had said earlier this month that residents might have seen an illusion caused by two commercial airplanes and reflections from the setting sun. On Wednesday, he said he should not have speculated about the reported sightings.

From well-respected business owners to a county constable, several dozen people say they saw a flying object that was larger, quieter, faster and lower to the ground than an airplane. They also said its lights changed configuration, unlike those of a plane.

“I guarantee that what we saw was not a civilian aircraft,” Steve Allen, a pilot and freight company owner, said Wednesday.

The planes’ training area in the Brownwood Military Operating Area includes Stephenville’s Erath County, but Allen said it does not include the airspace where he saw the object. Also, Jan. 8 was not the only day sightings were reported.

Full Story

Bush Administration Lied 935 Times About Iraq Before Invasion: Study


General Petraeus and President Bush enjoying themselves in Iraq

MTV News | Jan 23, 2008

President cited as most frequent liar, with 259 false statements about weapons of mass destruction and more.

By Gil Kaufman

For years, the Bush administration has faced charges that it bent the truth or flat-out misled the public about Iraq’s alleged stockpile of weapons of mass destruction in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of the country. Now, a study by two nonprofit journalism organizations claims that President Bush and top officials in his administration issued nearly 1,000 false statements about the security threat posed by Iraq in the wake of 9/11.

The results of the study were posted Tuesday on the Web site for the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity, which worked on the project with the Fund for Independence in Journalism. “On at least 532 separate occasions (in speeches, briefings, interviews, testimony and the like), Bush and these three key officials [Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld], along with former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and former White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan, stated unequivocally that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or was trying to produce or obtain them), links to al Qaeda or both. This concerted effort was the underpinning of the Bush administration’s case for war,” reads the report.

Entitled “False Pretenses,” the report claims that the statements were “part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.” According to The Associated Press, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said he could not comment on the study because he had not seen it.

Of the 935 false statements made by the administration, according to the study, Bush was reported to have led all White House officials with 259 false statements, which included 231 about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 28 about Iraq’s links to al Qaeda. Second on the list was Powell with 244 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10 about Iraq and al-Qaeda.

“It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al Qaeda,” wrote authors Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism. “In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003.”

Relying on what it described as a “massive database” of information that fed the results of the project, the authors said their research was based on juxtaposing what President Bush and the top officials in his administration said in public against what was known, “or should have been known, on a day-to-day basis.” The searchable database includes public statements drawn from both primary sources like official transcripts and secondary sources like the reporting of major news organizations over the two years beginning on September 11, 2001. It also used information from more than 25 government reports, books, articles, speeches and interviews.

An example given in the report is a portion of an address given at the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on August 26, 2002, during which Cheney said, “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.” According to the report, former CIA Director George Tenet later said Cheney’s assertions went well beyond his agency’s assessments at the time, and another CIA official, referring to the speech, told a prominent journalist, “Our reaction was, ‘Where is he getting this stuff from?’ ”

The study came under immediate fire from some conservative bloggers, who painted it as “leftist propaganda” and pointed out that it came from an organization funded by billionaire George Soros, who has given millions to a number of liberal think tanks and advocacy organizations. Steve Carpinelli, a spokesman for the Center, denied the charges and said the organization does not advocate any agenda, endorse any legislation or engage in any of the actions of an advocacy group. “What we’ve included here is all factual information that we were able to quantify and put into a form that people can search using a database,” said Carpinelli, who added that Soros contributed general funds to the organization in 2004, but that those funds were not used for the report and that they were not nearly the “millions” quoted by detractors.

As for criticism that the report does not have any new information but rather rehashes already-reported facts, Carpinelli said, “The difference is that while there have been many intelligence reports that came out that contradicted a lot of statements from administration officials, there’s been nothing that could show you how it was a coordinated effort.” The report is accompanied by a bar graph that Carpinelli said shows how the false statements reached their peak in the months prior to the March 2003 launch of the Iraq war and how they tapered off soon after.

Afghan journalist sentenced to death for questioning Islam


Sayed Parwez Kaambakhsh, 23, sentenced to death for ‘insulting Islam’

Telegraph | Jan 24, 2008

By David Blair, Diplomatic Editor

The Taliban-style intimidation of Afghan newspapers came to the surface after a journalist was sentenced to death for distributing an article deemed to have “insulted Islam”.

Sayed Parwez Kaambakhsh’s crime was to have passed around a piece taken from a website questioning why Muslim women cannot have multiple husbands in the same way as their menfolk can legally take four wives.

Mr Kaambakhsh, who works for “The New World”, a newspaper in Afghanistan’s northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, was prosecuted for downloading this article, apparently gleaned from an Iranian website, and distributing it to his friends.

On Tuesday, a court found him guilty of “insulting Islam” and sentenced him to death.

“Based on the crimes Parwez Kaambakhsh committed, the primary court sentenced him to the most serious punishment which is the death penalty,” said Hafizullah Khaliqyar, the province’s deputy attorney general.

No lawyer represented Mr Kaambakhsh, 23, during the critical hearing, which appears to have taken place in secret in Mazar-i-Sharif. The journalist will appeal against the verdict and both Afghan and international campaigners denounced his treatment.

“This is unfair, this is illegal,” said Rahimullah Samander, president of the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA). “This is too big for a small mistake – he just printed a copy and looked at this and read it. How can we believe in this ‘democracy’ if we can’t even read, we can’t even study?”

The AIJA urged President Hamid Karzai to intervene in the case and quash the death sentence. The penalty must be confirmed by a higher court before it can be inflicted.

But campaigners believe that the court’s real motive was not protecting the honour of Islam. Mr Kaambakhsh’s brother, Yaqub Ibrahimi, also works as a journalist and has written a series of reports on atrocities committed by senior politicians in northern Afghanistan.

The authorities may have been trying to silence him by threatening Mr Kaambakhsh’s life. Jean MacKenzie, country director for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, which trains Afghan journalists, said: “We feel very strongly that this is a complete fabrication on the part of the authorities up in Mazar, designed to put pressure on Parwez’s brother, Yaqub, who has done some of the hardest-hitting pieces outlining abuses by some very powerful commanders in Balkh and the other northern provinces.”

The overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 brought a new era of media freedom in Afghanistan. Dozens of newspapers and television stations have sprung up across the country. In practice, however, the authorities are deeply suspicious of journalists and all media outlets face pressure and harassment. Laws protecting the good name of Islam can often be invoked to stifle press criticism.