Daily Archives: June 3, 2008

Chlorinated drinking water causing major brain defects in children

Telegraph | Jun 3, 2008

By Roger Highfield, Science Editor

Babies born in areas where drinking water is heavily disinfected with chlorine are at double the risk of heart problems, cleft palate or major brain defects, according to a new study.

Expectant mothers can expose themselves to the higher risk by drinking the water, swimming in chlorinated water, taking a bath or shower, or even by standing close to a boiling kettle, say researchers.

The finding, based on an analysis of nearly 400,000 infants, is the first that links by-products of water chlorination – chemicals known as trihalomethanes, or THMs – to three specific birth defects.

Exposure to high levels of THMs substantially increased the risk of holes in the heart, cleft palate and anencephalus, which results in the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull, and scalp.

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Scientists sign petition denying man-made global warming

“There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of … greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the forseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments.”

Telegraph | May 30, 2008

By Graham Tibbetts

More than 31,000 scientists have signed a petition denying that man is responsible for global warming.

The academics, including 9,000 with PhDs, claim that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane are actually beneficial for the environment.

The petition was created in 1998 by an American physicist, the late Frederick Seitz, in response to the Kyoto Protocol a year earlier.

It urged the US government to reject the treaty and said: “The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.”

It added: “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of … greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the forseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments.”

The petition was reissued last year by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, an independent research group, partly in response to Al Gore’s film on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth.

Its president, Arthur Robinson, said: “If this many American scientists will sign this petition, you certainly can’t continue to contend that there is a consensus on this subject.”

One of the signatories, Frank Nuttall, a professor of medicine, said he believed the Earth was becoming warmer, despite his signature.

“This issue is whether the major reason for this is from human activities. I consider that inconclusive at the present time,” he said.

A spokesman for the Royal Society, Britain’s national academy of science, said: “The world’s leading climate experts at the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change believe that it is greater than 90 per cent likely that human activity is responsible for most of the observed warming in recent decades. That is a pretty strong consensus.

“The science has come a long way since 1998 and it continues to point in one direction – the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avert dangerous climate change.”

Terror law turns thousands of council officials into spies

stasi

The East German Stasi emblem would be appropriate for the new Britain

Relatively junior council officials are giving permission for operations to spy on people

The Times | May 31, 2008

by Alexi Mostrous

Thousands of middle managers in local councils are being authorised to spy on people suspected of petty offences using powers designed to prevent crime and terrorism.

Even junior council officials are being allowed to initiate surveillance operations in what privacy campaigners likened to Eastern bloc police tactics.

The Home Office is expected to be urged by the Commons Home Affairs select committee to issue guidelines to councils on the type of operations in which surveillance can be used.

Amid increasing concern in Parliament that the UK is slowly becoming a surveillance society, the committee has looked at the operation of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which some MPs say is being misused to focus on petty crime rather than serious offending.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs select committee, told The Times: “I am personally shocked by the numbers involved in surveillance by the local authorities. It is important we make sure there is proper accountability and transparency in the way this operates.” The committee, which has concluded an investigation into the surveillance society and is to publish its report in eight days’ time, is understood to have been concerned at the lack of guidance from central government to local authorities on how powers under the Act should be used.

Councils are increasingly allowing anyone of a “service manager” grade rather than high-ranking officials with a legal background to authorise surveillance operations. Relatively junior council officials are giving permission for operations to spy on people, their homes, obtain their telephone records and discover who they are e-mailing.

“A lot of councils are making the proactive decision to use these powers more,” a spokesman for Lacors, the central body that oversees local authorities, said.

“They think it’s a fantastic tool. Inevitably, more middle-management staff will be called on to authorise surveillance.”

Tens of thousands of service managers work in hundreds of councils throughout Britain and many have less than three years’ experience.

Gus Hosein, of the campaign group Privacy International, said: “The tactics of local authorities are more like the behaviour of the Stasi.”

Last year, councils and government departments made 12,494 applications for “directed surveillance”, according to figures released by the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner. This was almost double the number for the previous year. Applications from police and other law enforcement agencies fell during the same period, to about 19,000. Councils have admitted using the Act to spy on people committing minor offences such as fly-tipping, failing to pick up dog mess, and littering.

Human rights lawyers and Liberty, the civil liberties pressure group, last night condemned the widespread use of the Act by councils to deal with minor offending. Quincy Whitaker, a human rights barrister who has advised the police on the Act, said that the way that it is being used risks breaching the Government’s Human Rights Act.

“I would say that a majority of these applications are potentially illegal,” she said. “Most don’t seem proportionate — there are probably less intrusive ways of investigating dog fouling, for instance.

“There seems to be a widespread disregard for whether such snooping is necessary.”

Referring to Poole Council, where council workers had spied on a family they suspected of living in the wrong school catchment area, Ms Whitaker said: “Poole would have to show that there was no other way of investigating the abuse.

“It’s hard to believe that spying on a family was necessary, in which case it breached their right to privacy under the Human Rights Act.”

She added: “The Act has moved away from its original purpose, which was to help fight terrorism and serious crime. The way it’s been expanded is ridiculous. All these petty officials now have quite extraordinary powers. There’s great potential for abuse.”

Thousands of people may have been spied on or had their e-mail accounts accessed without their knowledge — and were never likely to know, Ms Whitaker said.

“One of the most worrying things is that people wouldn’t usually find out they had been spied on unless the council brought a prosecution against them,” she said.

“Spying by councils is just assumed to be the norm. It seems we’ve given up these freedoms to stop our streets being covered in dog s***.

“It’s all part of the increasing surveillance state.”

James Welch, legal director at Liberty, called on the Government to implement safeguards against abuse. “Rather than being authorised by bureaucrats ‘in-house’ such methods should only be used when they have been approved by a judge,” he said.

The Lacors spokesman said that officials had received no central training on the use of Ripa since 2003. “About 1,500 council officers attended a day’s workshop,” he said. “There hasn’t been anything since but we’re trying to set something up now.”

He said that training on human rights issues generally took place within the council. “There’s a bit of inconsistency,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to nail down now. Councils need every bit of help they can get to make difficult judgment calls.

“The legislation was originally designed for terrorism,” he admitted. “Councils could benefit from further guidance.”

The power of councils to conduct surveillance has expanded greatly since Ripa was passed in 2000. In 2003 they were given the right to obtain phone and internet records, techniques that had been reserved for the police and security services.

Disneyland by the Tigris

In the true tradition of ‘only in America’ fantasies, the US has a make believe answer. Not refurbished hospitals and schools, not clean water coming out of dysentery, typhoid and cholera inducing taps, not welcoming and healing orphanages for the estimated 4.5 million traumatised orphans they have created, not centres for and training of staff and technicians to provide prosthetic limbs for maimed children and adults. Baghdad instead, is to have a Disneyland theme park.

Iraq’s daily realities of death, destruction and torture are replaced by fantasies made in America.

by Felicity Arbuthnot

Global Research | May 27, 2008

Iraq, before the holocaustal thirteen year embargo, the 2003 illegal invasion and subsequent countrywide massacre and reign of terror over its population – not by a ‘few bad apples’ of the US and British army, but by an entire infested, diseased orchard – was, according to United Nations indices, a largely developed country.

Having nationalised its oil, revenues were utilised for modernising infrastructure, health, education (the latter two of high standard and free.) All now lie in ruins, the might of the two ‘most professional armies in the world’, apparently able only to blow up bridges, not build them, orphan not heal, bereave, destroy and devastate, poison and pollute.

Iraq now lies at the bottom in every aspect of UN indices, its sick untreated, its children uneducated, the ‘cradle of civilisation’ victim of a scorched earth policy – from its agriculture, date and citrus groves to its archeological wonders. The orphans, traumatised, displaced, widowed, mutilated, beheaded, fleeing, stateless, dead, in just five years, equal history’s most chilling infamies.

From 1st June, add starvation. The food rations, already cut to the barest minimum, of woeful quality, beset by (US overseen) governmental corruption, but on which much of the population exists, are to be abolished.

Additionally, in the nightmare scenario of everyday life in the democratic freedom of occupied Iraq, is a vast unknown: the number of amputees and limbless, those liberated from arms legs or both, by the ongoing orgial use of an eye watering array of weapons, including, allegedly, cluster bombs, from 1991 onwards. Hellfire and Maverick missiles, guided Bomb Units (GBUs) Hydra-7- rockets, cannon rounds (‘in a single operation on 28th January 2007, US F16s and A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft dropped more than 3.5 tons of precision munitions but also fired 1,200 rounds of 2mm and 1,100 rounds of 30mm cannon fire, in a five square mile area near the southern (holy) city of Najav.’

But in the true tradition of ‘only in America’ fantasies, the US has a make believe answer. Not refurbished hospitals and schools, not clean water coming out of dysentery, typhoid and cholera inducing taps, not welcoming and healing orphanages for the estimated 4.5 million traumatised orphans they have created, not centres for and training of staff and technicians to provide prosthetic limbs for maimed children and adults. Baghdad instead, is to have a Disneyland theme park (on appropriated land.)

‘Iraq’s daily realities of death, destruction and torture are replaced by fantasies made in America.

‘The imagery and motion simulations intended for Iraqi children are to provide a “human face” to the American invaders’ and breaking down the reality between ‘.. reality and dreams. The objective is to replace reality with a dream world.’ (For full details of this obscenity see: ‘ War Propaganda: Disneyland goes to war torn Iraq, by Michel Chossudovsky : http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8837)

A constant refrain during the embargo years, in media parroting Washington and Whitehall’s propaganda, was that the ever busy Iraqi President, when not personally making fairy story weapons of mass destruction, or throwing babies on bonfires, or putting fellow citizens through shredding machines (that one courtesy of the reality-challenged Ann Clwyd, M.P.,) was that he was ‘building palaces whilst his people starve.’ Culturally, it is incumbent upon leaders to leave behind something more magnificent than their predecessor and in dark times, they also provided work to a swathe of the population, as did maintenance, care of and repair to historic sites, of whose responsibility for and guardianship Iraqis are acutely aware.

That these great state buildings (and archeological wonders) are now illegally squatted, by illegal invaders (in contravention of yet another swathe of international law) seemingly does not strike lawmakers by the Potomac or the Thames as either ironic or criminally outside the law’s provisions.

But now a land grab is about to take place comparable to the ‘purchase’ of Manhattan Island from the Lenapes Indians for $24 worth of beads and trinkets in 1626, the ‘best real estate deal in history.’

In an ‘agreement’ with the ‘Mayor’ of Baghdad, the fifty acre Zawra Park is to be developed into a trashy Disneyland by the Tigris, complete with malls, hotels, housing, amusements, entertainment and a museum. Iraq’s National Museum with its millennias of treasures and the National Library’s irreplaceable ancient volumes and manuscripts were looted and destroyed under US watch in 2003. A replacement by a Disneyland version is a concept devised by the seriously psychologically challenged.

A skateboard park will introduce the residents of a city thought to have been first settled eight thousand years before Christ, to the culture of inner city USA. Announcing his plans in Baghdad, financier Llewellyn Werner stated: ‘I’m not here because I think you are nice people. I think there is money to be made here … I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t making money.’

Speculating as to what the ‘agreement’ with the ‘Mayor’ might have been, might stray in to libel land. Zawra Park, however, has a special place in the heart of Baghdadis. Its great zoo, summer theatre, children’s game area, fountains, lakes, coffee shops, restaurant, sculptures, monuments, and Olympic swimming pool, became somewhat run down during the embargo, but nothing could take from its great, expanses of lushness, its acres of ancient palms, royal indeed, stretching skyward. Wonders in which generations of children, become adult, become mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, great grandmother … had played and revisited throughout their lifetime. Will Mr Werner and his RSE developers call in General Petraeus’s boys with chain saws to destroy groves which have witnessed hundreds of years of Mesopotamia’s history, to make way for make believe tack? General Petraeus is a ‘big supporter’ of the project. And destruction is his business.

The zoo in Zawra Park became one of the poignant symbols of the embargo years. With every kind of diagnostic aid and treatment vetoed for patients, by the UN, the needs of the zoo animals came low down the priority list. But Dr Adil Salman Musa, zoo Director, loved them all. He tried to create better conditions for the great brown bear, whose mate had died for lack of treatment. Year after year, the bear lay, seldom moving, except to occasionally roll in her great pool of filthy water, repairs for pipes, impossible. She was clinically depressed said Musa.

The lion too had lost his mate and his roars of grief rang across the great Park, from within his spacious den. He refused to come out roam between the sun dappled, abundant greenery of his territory.

Musa communicated with colleagues across the world for help with his animals and birds, the swinging, chattering monkeys, the array of vibrant coloured rare birds. But like the people, they were trapped by the embargo’s all pervasive, silent decimation.

As parents took their children to the orphanages, unable to afford to feed them, promising to collect them when the embargo was over, families also took their domestic pets to the zoo, vowing the same. Dogs and cats looked wistfully through the bars and canaries in every paint box hue, perched on their indoor trees, tweeted and soared. Iraqis have a passion for birds.

Dr Musa too dreamed of the embargo’s end, always planning for what it would bring to his zoo, his improvements, and work with rare and endangered species again with breeding programmes to swell their numbers.

When one of the three remaining Bengal tigers, Mendouh, became ill, Dr Musa somehow acquired enough vital antibiotics to inject her. But there were no anesthetic darts available. ‘I held her tail, while the vet gave her the injection’, he said, adding: ‘This is a very dangerous practice.’ He risked much for his beloved animals.

On 17th September 2003, six months into the occupation, American soldiers had a drunken party in the park. One tried to feed the Mendouh through the bars. Predictably, she bit him. The soldier shot her.

And what has happened to the lynx? On one visit, rounding a corner, I came on a surreal sight : a lynx, in a miniature carved palace, carpeted, with adequate food, looking, I thought, distinctly smug. Noting the plaque above the spacious area, the penny dropped. The lynx was a gift to the zoo, on a recent anniversary, from Saddam Hussein’s eldest son, Uday.

‘What happens if the lynx dies?’ I asked. The young zoologist walking with me looked over his shoulder, then whispered: ‘Madam Felicity, we all run a very, very long way.’ I have written of Zawra Park before and its resonance for Baghdadis, the sad, the surreal, the peace and laughter of days spent there.

On 9th May, Dick Cheney, on the Paul Gallow Show in Mississippi, told Americans that the proposed development was a sign that things in Iraq were ‘going swimmingly.’ The Pentagon is fast tracking this development as a centrepiece for the new Baghdad in the new Iraq. Legalities, as ever, have not appeared on the agenda. Pentagon backed purloining of a vast swathe of municipal reality with the collusion of the occupying forces is yet another shocking grand theft.

But a word of warning. The Islamic fundamentalists who the invaders brought in with them, who behead women for wearing make up or western clothes – or just not covering from head to toe – and abhor theatre, art, dance, entertainment, music, alcohol, will not take kindly to this project. Contractors should have up to date life in insurance. A lot of heads will roll between conception and possible completion.

And about those 200,000 free skateboards, the Baltimore Project which provides prosthetic limbs to Iraqi children, wrote, in July 1996, of just one child’s transformed life:

’Not only can he now ride a bicycle like other boys his age, but more importantly he can go to school. There are no wheelchair ramps in Iraq, no buses equipped with lifts, no way to ease a child back into the world after amputation.’

The obscenity of this project – before limbs, wheelchairs, clean water, hospitals, schools, sufficient food, decontaminating the radioactive waste from weapons designated three times by the United Nations, as weapons of mass destruction which litters the country and the region from US and UK weapons – beggars belief. When Medical Aid for Iraqi children sent children’s wheel chairs after the invasion, the US Army disappeared them. But with countless hundreds of thousands of legless, limbless children, throughout Iraq, resultant from their actions, not medical help, but free skateboards can be funded.

Oh, and where do you put your elbow pads, when you have no elbows?

Battery Park in Manhattan is named after the British battery stationed there, its monument marking the monumental disgrace upon which New York City was founded. Hard to know what to call the modern day equivalent, perhaps the ‘Grand Theft Experience Park.’ Suggestions welcome.

High-ranking Bush officials enjoy war profits

Salon | May 29, 2008

By Tim Shorrock

Richard L. Armitage, who served from 2001 to 2005 as Deputy Secretary of State, was a rarity in the Bush administration: an official who delighted in talking to the press. Reporters loved him for his withering criticism of the neoconservative zealots around President George W. Bush and in part because he fed them tidbits about the White House they could obtain nowhere else. His accidental disclosure to conservative columnist Robert Novak that Valerie Plame, the wife of Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson, was working undercover for the Central Intelligence Agency remains one of the most notorious leaks of the Bush era.

But perhaps because of his cozy ties to the Washington press corps and the media’s obsession with Plamegate, very little has been written about Armitage’s extensive business dealings. In fact, Armitage is one of the most successful capitalists in Washington. He has successfully parlayed his experience in covert operations and secret diplomacy into a thriving career as a consultant and adviser to some of the biggest players in America’s Intelligence Industrial Complex — corporations that are working at the heart of U.S. national security and profiting handsomely from it.

Armitage, currently an adviser to presidential candidate John McCain, had once been Colin Powell’s closest ally during the bitter disputes inside the Bush administration over the invasion and occupation of Iraq. According to the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, Armitage advised Powell on more than one occasion to tell the neocons to “go fuck themselves,” and, at one point, even refused to deliver a speech about Iraq drafted for him by Vice President Dick Cheney’s office.

Yet, three years after those epic battles, Armitage is enjoying life as a stakeholder in a dozen private companies that are making money directly from the war started by his former nemeses.

Over the past decade, contracting for America’s spy agencies has grown into a $50 billion industry that eats up seven of every 10 dollars spent by the U.S. government on its intelligence services. Today, unbeknownst to most Americans, agencies once renowned for their prowess in analysis, covert operations, electronic surveillance and overhead reconnaissance outsource many of their core tasks to the private sector. The bulk of this market is serviced by about 100 companies, ranging in size from multibillion dollar defense behemoths to small technology shops funded by venture capitalists.

Nearly every one of them has sought out former high-ranking intelligence and national security officials as both managers and directors. Like Armitage, these are people who have served for decades in the upper echelons of national power. Their lives have been defined by secret briefings, classified documents, covert wars and sensitive intelligence missions. Many of them have kept their security clearances and maintain a hand in government by serving as advisers to high-level advisory bodies at the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the White House. Now, with their government careers behind them, they make their living by rendering strategic advice to the dozens of information technology vendors and intelligence contractors headquartered along the banks of the Potomac River and the byways of Washington’s Beltway.

Ever since the 1950s, with the rise of America’s modern military-industrial complex, high-level U.S. officials and military men have moved between the government and private sectors. But what we have today with the intelligence business is something far more systemic: senior officials leaving their national security and counterterrorism jobs for positions where they are basically doing the same jobs they once held at the CIA, the NSA and other agencies — but for double or triple the salary, and for profit. It’s a privatization of the highest order, in which our collective memory and experience in intelligence — our crown jewels of spying, so to speak — are owned by corporate America. Yet, there is essentially no government oversight of this private sector at the heart of our intelligence empire. And the lines between public and private have become so blurred as to be nonexistent.

Shortly after leaving government in 2005, Armitage was recruited to the board of directors of ManTech International, a $1.7 billion corporation that does extensive work for the National Security Agency and other intelligence collection agencies. He’s also since advised two private equity funds with significant holdings in intelligence enterprises. Veritas Capital, where Armitage served as a senior adviser from 2005 to 2007, owns intelligence consultant McNeil Technologies Inc. and DynCorp International, an important security contractor in Iraq. For a time, Veritas also owned MZM, Inc., the CIA and defense intelligence contractor that was caught — before the Veritas acquisition — bribing former Republican Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham.

In 2007, Armitage, along with several Veritas executives, moved over to DC Capital Partners, an intelligence-oriented buyout firm with some $200 million in assets. One of its first acquisitions after Armitage came on board was Omen Inc., a Maryland company that provides information technology and consulting services to the NSA. The fund has since combined Omen with two other intelligence contractors to form a new company called National Interests Security Company LLC, which has 850 employees, more than half of them holding top secret or higher security clearances.

Through his own eponymous consulting firm, Armitage has lobbied on behalf of L-3 Communications Inc., one of the nation’s largest intelligence contractors, to help it sell anti-submarine surveillance systems to Taiwan. L-3, like ManTech, is also heavily involved in Iraq. (Further topping off Armitage’s investment interests in the war: He sits on the board of directors of ConocoPhillips, which is aiming to become a major player in Iraq’s energy industry through a joint venture with Russia’s Lukoil.)

In these jobs, former high-level officials like Armitage continue to fight terrorist threats and protect the “homeland,” as they once did while working in government. But by fusing their political careers with business, these former officials have brought money-making into the highest reaches of national security. They have created a new class of capitalist policy-makers that is bridging the gap between public policy and private business in ways that are unprecedented in American history.

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European Parliament to ban Eurosceptic groups

Telegraph | May 27, 2008

By Bruno Waterfield

Plans to eliminate Eurosceptics as an organised opposition within the European Parliament are expected to be agreed by a majority of MEPs this summer.

The European Union assembly’s political establishment is pushing through changes that will silence dissidents by changing the rules allowing Euro-MPs to form political groupings.

Richard Corbett, a British Labour MEP, is leading the charge to cut the number of party political tendencies in the Parliament next year, a move that would dissolve UKIP’s pan-European Eurosceptic “Independence and Democracy” grouping.

Under the rule change, the largest and msot pro-EU groups would tighten their grip on the Parliament’s political agenda and keep control of lavish funding.

”It would prevent single issue politicians from being given undue support from the public purse,” said Mr Corbett.

”We want to avoid the formation of a fragmented Parliament, deeply divided into many small groups and unable to work effectively.”

Mr Corbett’s proposals will also give the President of the Parliament sweeping powers to approve or reject parliamentary questions.

Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, claimed that the move goes hand in hand with the denial of popular votes on the new EU Treaty.

”Welcome to your future. This shows an EU mindset that is arrogant, anti-democratic and frankly scary,” he said.

”These people are so scared of public opinion they are willing to set in stone the right to ignore it. Freedom requires the governing elite to be held to account. They must be getting very worried if they are enacting such dictatorial powers for themselves.”

Current rules allow 20 MEPs from a fifth of the EU’s member states to form groupings, giving them a say in the Parliament’s administration and power structure.

Under the changes, the threshold would become 30 MEPs from one quarter of the EU’s member states.

The Liberal Democrats, Greens, the far Left, Eurosceptics and other groupings have vowed to oppose the plans during a vote scheduled for July 9. Andrew Duff, leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrat Euro-MPs and a committed EU Federalist, has opposed the silencing of UKIP on the basis of democratic principle.

”Whatever one’s views about their politics it cannot be argued that these small groups do not represent a strand of European public opinion,” he said.

”If the European Parliament is to be the legitimate forum for post-national democracy, all sorts of minority opinions have to be given effective, if proportionate representation.”

But the proposals are expected to be passed with the backing of the Parliament’s centre-Left and Right groupings, which account for 64 per cent of MEPs, including British Conservative and Labour deputies.

The row over the new EU Treaty meanwhile took a new turn yesterday after José Manuel Barroso, the Commission President, warned Irish voters that they will “pay” if they reject the document in a referendum next month.

Speaking in Brussels on Monday night, Mr Barroso attempted to head off growing opposition to the Treaty by threatening outcast status for Ireland.

”If there was a ‘No’ in Ireland or in another country, it would have a very negative effect for the EU. We will all pay a price for it, Ireland included, if this is not done in a proper way,” he said.

Officials fear that advanced plans to create a new EU President, Foreign Minister and European diplomatic service will be sunk by an Irish referendum rejection on June 12.

The new Lisbon Treaty replaces the old EU Constitution that was rejected by French and Dutch voters three years ago. While the other EU member states, such as Britain, have successfully evaded popular votes, Ireland is constitutionally required to hold a referendum and Brussels dreads a repeat of the 2001 Irish rejection of the Nice Treaty.

Yesterday, Paddy Power Plc, Ireland’s biggest bookmaker, rung alarm bells by following the opinion polls to cut the odds of a referendum rejection by half – from 4-1 to 2-1.

Superstitious EU officials are also keenly aware that the referendum result will be announced on an inauspicious date, Friday the 13th of June.

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MEPs to strip Eurosceptics of cash and influence

Bishop says climate-change deniers are as bad as sex dungeon father Josef Fritzl

Denies calling sceptics child abusers

Daily Mail | Jun 2, 2008

By Steve Doughty

A Church of England bishop has been criticised after he compared climate change sceptics to the Austrian child abuser Josef Fritzl.

The Bishop of Stafford, the Right Reverend Gordon Mursell, said it was hard to imagine a more disgusting crime than Fritzl’s, who sealed his daughter in a cellar for 24 years.

But Dr Mursell added: ‘You could argue that, by our refusal to face the truth about climate change, we are as guilty as he is.

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‘We are in effect locking our children and grandchildren into a world with no future and throwing away the key.’

His comments, which were made in a pastoral letter addressed to churchgoers, have been widely attacked.

One critic accused the Church of England of elevating global warming to be a new religion.

Fritzl, a 73-year-old electrical engineer from Amstetten in Austria, was arrested in April after imprisoning his daughter Elisabeth in a cellar under his home for 24 years.

During that time, she bore seven children from his repeated rapes. Three of the children – the oldest 19 – were never allowed out of the underground chamber.

Dr Mursell, 59, a suffragan or junior bishop in the Lichfield diocese, yesterday told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I don’t wish to shock people unnecessarily and I am in no way trying to imply that people who ignore climate change are child abusers – of course not.

‘I am simply trying to use an analogy to get people to wake up to the consequences of what we are failing to do, because if we don’t there won’t be a future for our children either.

‘The problem with climate change is – as I heard Prince Charles arguing very eloquently a couple of weeks ago – that it is terribly hard to get people to see the seriousness of it because the consequences are not faced just by the person failing to take action now.

‘I think we have to try to find ways to get people to see the consequences of our failure to act on climate change.

‘Could you not argue that if there is no future for our children and grandchildren, we will have been guilty of committing the most appalling crimes as well?’

But Professor Frank Furedi, head of the sociology department at Kent University, accused Dr Mursell of demonising those who do not agree with the fashionable wisdom on climate change

He told the online magazine Spiked: ‘Focusing on the current anxieties about the future of the planet is a fruitful way of rediscovering Satan.

‘Demonologists in pre-modern times argued that scepticism about witchcraft was a form of heresy that had to be punished.

‘Now, scepticism towards the received wisdom on global warming, or on public health issues such as Aids, is described as “denial”.

‘Denial has been transformed into a generic evil.

‘History shows that crusades against heretics and demons have a nasty habit of disorienting society and undermining civilised and humanist behaviour.’

Jill Kirby, director of the centreright think-tank, Centre for Policy Studies, which has published papers by scientists sceptical of climate change, said: ‘Climate change has achieved the status of an alternative religion.

‘It is a shame to see the CoE putting so much faith into an idea over which there is no agreement among scientists.’

Dr Mursell is not the first CoE prelate to link climate change and evil.

Two years ago, the Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres, claimed it was sinful for people to ignore any actions that contributed to climate change.