The Waterless Watering Hole, Monday, February 3rd, 2014

A few recent articles got me started connecting several dots, which then began forming an unsettling picture. Read along, and let me know what you think.

First, according to this ClimateProgress article from January 31st, what was once the largest lake in the Middle East, Lake Urmia in northwestern Iran, has reportedly lost 95% of its water. While Lake Urmia is a saltwater lake, and not essential for agriculture or drinking water, such a huge reduction in size is more than alarming. From the article:

“Dam construction recently increased throughout the country, to provide both badly needed electricity and water supplies for irrigation. But that’s also diverted massive amounts of the freshwater that formerly flowed into Lake Urmia. Other major rivers throughout the country have gone dry, and the dust from the riverbeds and the salt from Lake Urmia’s dried basin are now a form of pollution unto themselves. Major cities around the country — including the capital of Tehran, home to 22 million — are making contingency plans for rationing. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently named water as a national security issue, and demonstrations and riots over water supplies have already erupted.”[emphasis mine]

“According to a 2012 study by the United Nations, 65 percent of the decline can be chalked up to climate change and the diversion of surface water cutting inflow to the lake. Another 25 percent was due to dams, and 10 percent was due to decreased rainfall over the lake itself.

A long drought in Iran ended two years ago, but the recent boost to rainfall has not been able to offset the other effects on the lake. Average temperatures around Lake Urmia rose three degrees in just the past ten years. In Pakistan, which sits along Iran’s southeast border, climate change has reduced snowmelt and river flow. That’s led to domestic political strife, and to a strained relationship with India over dams along the Indus River — Pakistan’s main source of freshwater.”[emphasis mine]

A commenter on the thread then led me to this Guardian article from November, concerning Hongjiannao Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake:

“Data released by local meteorological agencies on Thursday and reported by Chinese state media, shows the lake has now shrunk by almost one-third since 2009…”

Then there was this article by Graham Land entitled “Asia’s Disappearing Lakes”, with its alarming opening paragraphs:

“One of the worst environmental disasters in living memory is the near vanishing of the Aral Sea in Central Asia. What was once one of the world’s four largest lakes, containing some 1.5 thousand islands and covering 68,000 square kilometres (26,000 miles), by 2007 the Aral Sea was only 10% of its previous size and divided into four lakes.

What happened to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan’s inland sea was not the result of normal changing weather patterns. The fate of the Aral Sea is a story of human intervention, contamination and local climate change.”

Next, Brad Plumer interviews Francesca Femia of the think-tank Center for Climate and Security in this Washington Post article. Ms. Femia states that, during the period between 2006 and 2011, “…up to 60 percent of Syria’s land experienced one of the worst long-term droughts in modern history.”

“This drought — combined with the mismanagement of natural resources by [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, who subsidized water-intensive crops like wheat and cotton farming and promoted bad irrigation techniques — led to significant devastation. According to updated numbers, the drought displaced 1.5 million people within Syria…They all moved into urban areas — urban areas that were already experiencing economic insecurity due to an influx of Iraqi and Palestinian refugees.”

Ms. Femia added, “…we’re not making any claim to causality here. We can’t say climate change caused the civil war. But we can say that there were some very harsh climatic conditions that led to instability.” Later in the interview, Ms. Femia says that it was a 2011 NOAA report “showing that a prolonged period of drying in the Mediterranean and the Middle East was linked to climate change” that brought the conditions in Syria to her attention. [I mention this simply because I find it ironic that a NOAA report is taken so seriously outside of the U.S., while so many of our "exceptional Americans" are dumbfuck climate change deniers who wouldn't trust a NOAA report if god it/him/herself read the report to them.]

We’ve all read the recent stories about the toxic spill in West Virginia that contaminated the water supply for 300,000 people. (And they’re still peeling more eye-watering layers off this onion of a story.) We’ve seen the photos and news reports showing West Virginians driving to designated water-supply centers for their ration of clean water–which didn’t appear to be enough for families to bathe, drink, cook, and somehow wash clothes with. At one point, Wal-Mart had to call in the local police to help protect a delivery of bottled water.

Now imagine if the Keystone XL pipeline is given the go-ahead, and eventually there’s a spill that contaminates the Ogallala Aquifer. Instead of 300,000 people being without clean water, it would be 3,000,000 – all vying for relief deliveries of fresh water.

I could go on, but I think you catch my drift: if mankind, and the United States in particular, continues to ignore global climate change, refuses to enforce current environmental regulations, continues to rely heavily on finite and filthy fossil fuels, and refuses to consider stricter pollution regulations, then clean drinking water will become more scarce, and more valuable. If scarcity of water is fueling riots and protests in other parts of the world, imagine what could happen in the United States: with so much of our citizenry being over-armed and paranoid, how soon would the shooting start? And, if even Iran is already considering water to be “a national security issue”, eventually the inept fools who occupy Congress might finally get it through their thick skulls that clean water is essential to life as we know it, and is therefore more important than oil. So, when do you think the first War for Water would start? Or maybe it would be referred to as WWW: World Water War?

Not that I think that all of this may happen within my lifetime, but as Rachel Maddow used to say, “Somebody talk me down!”

This is our daily open thread–talk about whatever you want!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, October 18th, 2012: Romney’s Foreign to Foreign Policy

While we’re all still on a bit of a contact high from President Obama’s excellent performance in Tuesday night’s debate, the final Presidential Debate, supposedly covering U.S. foreign policy, looms just around the corner. As a follow-up to my post on Monday, I’m offering two pertinent articles from Foreign Policy magazine.

The first is a piece of rather hawkish advice offered to President Obama by David Rothkopf, which, in part, points out the frightening fact that:

“To get to buried Iranian facilities, such as the enrichment plant at Fordow, would require bunker-busting munitions on a scale that no Israeli plane is capable of delivering. The mission, therefore, must involve the United States, whether acting alone or in concert with the Israelis and others.”

Oy!

The second, as I mentioned on Monday, is a return to Mitt Romney’s recent foreign-policy speech at VMI (Virginia Military Institute.) While I find it disturbing for a Presidential candidate to be obviously undermining his audience’s Commander-in-Chief, even more disturbing were Romney’s comments about the recent tragic attack on our embassy in Benghazi. This line in particular jumped out at me: “These mobs hoisted the black banner of Islamic extremism over American embassies on the anniversary of 9/11.” I’m still looking, but I have not found ANY independent corroboration of this little tidbit.

The following are a few more excepts. Of course, it figures that Romney is a proponent of an Obama Administration policy with which many of us liberals take great issue.

“Drones and the modern instruments of war are important tools in our fight, but they are no substitute for a national security strategy for the Middle East.”

Anyway, Romney continues…

“It is time to change course in the Middle East. That course should be organized around these bedrock principles: America must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose and resolve in our might. No friend of America will question our commitment to support them. No enemy that attacks America will question our resolve to defeat them. And no one anywhere, friend or foe, will doubt America’s capability to back up our words.”

Based on this attitude, Romney wants to pour an unnecessary and unasked-for $2 trillion-with-a-T into the Department of Defense.

“I’ll work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination. For the sake of peace, we must make clear to Iran through actions, not just words, that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated.
I’ll reaffirm our historic ties to Israel and our abiding commitment to its security. The world must never see any daylight between our two nations.

Why? The United States of America is NOT the same country, we don’t share the same culture or the same history as Israel; we are not geographical neighbors experiencing common challenges. The Constitution says nothing about our country’s ability to create a new country, nor about then being responsible for that new country forever. The President of the United States swears an oath to protect and defend our Constitution, and that oath does not mention protecting and defending Israel as well. Israel is fully capable of defending itself, having been greatly helped by our military and financial assistance. Isn’t it time to cut the cord and let the allegedly adult sovereign state of Israel be responsible for its own actions? But I digress…

“Finally, I will recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel. On this vital issue, the President has failed, and what should be a negotiation process has devolved into a series of heated disputes at the United Nations. In this old conflict, as in every challenge we face in the Middle East, only a new President will bring the chance to begin anew.”

Now, that’s the ultimate lying hypocrisy from Romney, who, in the infamous, supposedly-private “47% speech” to big-money donors, said:

“And I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way. And so what you do is you say you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that it’s going to remain an unsolved problem. I mean, we look at that in China and Taiwan. All right, we have a potentially volatile situation, but we sort of live with it. And we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve. We don’t go to war to try and resolve it.

In other words, Romney has no plan for the Middle East. Does this mean that Romney’s believes in “hopey-changey”?

I also ran across this interesting and helpful analysis on Romney’s VMI speech, by Andrew Quinn.

This is our daily open thread–what do YOU have to say?

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.

IT’S ALL A SHOW. IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?

OPEN THREAD
JUST REMEMBER
EVERYTHING I SAID
DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

 

Afghanistan is Lost!

source:www.defense.gov

This is one major scoop of investigative journalism, just right next to The Pentagon Papers.

Wikileaks has produced over 90’000 partly classified documents covering a six year stretch of the Afghan mission. The Guardian in the UK, Der Spiegel in Germany and The New York Times have each received the documents a while ago for review and released their findings today. As I am writing this I cannot reach the wikileaks webpage, which must be overwhelmed with traffic, I suspect, so I give you a gist of what the three news outlets are making of the documents.

Der Spiegel:

The documents offer a window into the war in the Hindu Kush — one which promises to change the way we think about the ongoing violence in Afghanistan. They will also be indispensible for anyone seeking to inform themselves about the war in the future. (read article)

The newspaper then highlights five issues, one of them the situation in the North where German forces are stationed:

The Germans thought that the northern provinces where their soldiers are stationed would be more peaceful compared to other provinces and that the situation would remain that way.

They were wrong. (read more)

In an interview with the weekly Julian Assange, founder of Wikipedia, says:

Assange: These files are the most comprehensive description of a war to be published during the course of a war — in other words, at a time when they still have a chance of doing some good. They cover more than 90,000 different incidents, together with precise geographical locations. They cover the small and the large. A single body of information, they eclipse all that has been previously said about Afghanistan. They will change our perspective on not only the war in Afghanistan, but on all modern wars. (read full interview)

The Guardian obviously eyes the British side of the conflict:

Questionable shootings of civilians by UK troops also figure. The US compilers detail an unusual cluster of four British shootings in Kabul in the space of barely a month, in October/November 2007, culminating in the death of the son of an Afghan general. Of one shooting, they wrote: “Investigation controlled by the British. We are not able to get [sic] complete story.” (read all)

and more here

The US army’s archives contain descriptions of at least 21 separate occasions in which British troops are said to have shot or bombed Afghan civilians, including women and children.

The logs identify at least 26 people killed and another 20 wounded as a result. Some casualties were accidentally caused by air strikes, but many also are said to involve British troops firing on unarmed drivers or motorcyclists who come “too close” to convoys or patrols. Their injuries result from what are described as “warning shots” or “disabling shots” fired into the engine block, as required by the military’s “escalation of force” regulations.

They explain how they came by the data:

The Afghanistan war logs series of reports on the war in Afghanistan published by the Guardian is based on the US military’s internal logs of the conflict between January 2004 and December 2009. The material, largely classified by the US as secret, was obtained by the whistleblower website Wikileaks, which has published the full archive. The Guardian, along with the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel, was given access to the logs before publication to verify their authenticity and assess their significance. (read all and watch video)

The New York Times explains to its readers:

Deciding whether to publish secret information is always difficult, and after weighing the risks and public interest, we sometimes chose not to publish. But there are times when the information is of significant public interest, and this is one of those times. The documents illuminate the extraordinary difficulty of what the United States and its allies have undertaken in a way that other accounts have not. (read more)

The role of Pakistan in the Afghan war is of special interest to the NYT:

Some of the reports describe Pakistani intelligence working alongside Al Qaeda to plan attacks. Experts cautioned that although Pakistan’s militant groups and Al Qaeda work together, directly linking the Pakistani spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, with Al Qaeda is difficult.

[...]

Such accusations are usually met with angry denials, particularly by the Pakistani military, which insists that the ISI severed its remaining ties to the groups years ago. An ISI spokesman in Islamabad said Sunday that the agency would have no comment until it saw the documents. Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, said, “The documents circulated by WikiLeaks do not reflect the current on-ground realities.”

[...]

On June 19, 2006, ISI operatives allegedly met with the Taliban leaders in Quetta, the city in southern Pakistan where American and other Western officials have long believed top Taliban leaders have been given refuge by the Pakistani authorities. At the meeting, according to the report, they pressed the Taliban to mount attacks on Maruf, a district of Kandahar that lies along the Pakistani border. (read more)

There is heaps more in all three newspapers and this story is going to be hot for weeks to come, due to the vast expanse of the information made available. This may well be the final nail into the coffin of the Afghanistan war. There already is growing opposition against the mission and seeing the stark truth will further convince people, that the fight is not worth it. The documents cover the time from January 2004 to December 2009 after Iraq has been attacked on March 20th 2003 and the focus shifted away from the Afghan mission. The leaked documents don’t say anything about the time between October 2001 and 2004. I do hold on to the belief, however, that the Afghanistan mission wasn’t doomed from the beginning. But absolutely after the decision was made to attack Iraq. And again, as it is with most conflicts, the people of Afghanistan have suffered before the war, during the war and will continue to suffer after the international troops have long left.

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Musharraf stepping down? Maybe not..

Yesterday I posted that President Pervez Musharraf was to be stepping down in the next few days.
The BBC is now reporting that he is apparently NOT going to be stepping down..

BBC:

A spokesman for President Musharraf of Pakistan has firmly denied newspaper reports that the former general has already agreed to step down.

Rashid Qureshi said Mr Musharraf – who is under the threat of impeachment – would not resign or seek immunity.

A leading supporter of the president said that messages were being exchanged between the different parties but no agreement had yet been reached.

The ruling coalition says it may start impeachment proceedings next week.

Oy… I’m so confused..

Good Morning from Europe – The Sunday Papers

View from Piz Martenas – Savognin – Switzerland

What’s another week? While “Europeanview” was negotiating the slopes of Swiss Mountains “on two sticks” as our revered resident witch calls it, the world kept turning. For me personally the fun story came out of Germany this week. A tax fraud scandal rocked the Republic and threatens the safe haven for tax-ridden estates, Liechtenstein. And, of course, the Democratic Party’s nomination leads the news again. Kosovo has declared its Independence, much to the dismay of the Serbs and Russia and Pakistan has voted, but not found a government coalition yet.

Germany first. When the boss of Germany’s logistics giant “Deutsche Post” was led from his villa by police on charges of tax fraud, this made headlines, but as it turned out it was the tip of an iceberg. What had happened? The LGT, the Liechtenstein Bank of the principality’s ruling family, decided to join the ranks of 21st century banks and digitalize their bank records. An employee, who was scanning documents in this projects, decided to save the records on a bunch of DVDs and then asked the bank for an allowance for special expenditure which would have included the return of the DVDs to the bank. The bank refused, so this person sent e-mails to the German, British and US authorities, claiming moral scruples in the light of so much blatant tax evasion and reaping in a hefty sum from Germany alone. German Police and State Attorneys are orchestrating a drama in publishing names and facts which will see it’s next round on Tuesday. “The Economist” says:

THE word Schadenfreude was coined for just such occasions.(…) Germany was already in the throes of an argument about pay, equality and whether capitalism is fair. Globalisation and economic reforms have squeezed the wages of ordinary Germans. Yet the pay of Germany’s top managers jumped 17.5% in the 2006-07 financial year, according to Kienbaum, a headhunter. The same class has lately been held responsible for expense-account sex (Volkswagen), systematic bribery (Siemens) and subprime self-abuse (IKB and the state banks of Saxony and Bavaria).

The culprits now have a chance to turn themselves in, which will lower their sentences considerably, or try to sit it out and face the music later. Many may wish they had acted according to the wise words of this commentary in “The Telegraph”.

The US Democratic Primaries are still making headlines in the Sunday Papers. Especially Hillary Clintons woes are being pleasurably reported on, it seems, by “The Times”. The Paper relishes the blunders a campaign, once dubbed a well oiled machinery, made on its way from unavoidable to “on the ropes”.

Clinton has set up a website, http://www.delegatehub.com, outlining a path to the nomination which relies on arm-twisting the super-delegates and seating the “ghost” delegations from Florida and Michigan, states which broke party rules by holding their contests early.

Gerard Baker suggests Hillary Clinton may become toxic in the end, never mind the damage to the Democratic Party.

“The Guardian”, however, concentrates on a relatively new development in the campaigns. The role of the press and their increased scrutiny of Barack Obama.

In the New York Times, two influential columnists weighed in with brutal attacks against Obama. David Brooks called him a ‘trophy messiah’ and Paul Krugman claimed Obama’s campaign was ‘…dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality’. Meanwhile, in the Boston Globe, Obama supporter Margery Eagan expressed her own doubts about her pick. ‘I’m nervous because John McCain says Obama is an “eloquent but empty call for change” and in the wee, wee hours a nagging voice whispers: “Suppose McCain’s right,’ Eagan wrote.

But the Guardian, too, decides:

Such tactics (circumventing campaign finance laws) also cannot hide the fact that the Clinton camp is in deep trouble. Much of the top leadership still remains deeply split over the right tactics in the final days before Texas and Ohio go to the polls.

The Kosovo province of Serbia has unilaterally proclaimed its independence, which turns out to be an inspiration for many separatist movements around the globe, much to the anxiety of the ruling majorities. “Der Spiegel” portrays six European regions with separatist movements.

Pakistan’s elections didn’t bring a clear winner. There will be a civilian coalition government, maybe even without Musharraf, but the Pakistani Taliban have already made clear, that any governmant better stayed clear from getting involved in the tribal areas.

This is what struck “Europeanview” as interesting this morning and there is, of course much more to be found through the links provided. I wish you all a very peaceful, happy and healthy Sunday. Take care! 

Will Musharraf step down?

via: Excite News

Pakistan’s ruling party conceded defeat Tuesday after opposition parties routed allies of President Pervez Musharraf in parliamentary elections that could threaten the rule of America’s close ally in the war on terror.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted in Musharraf’s 1999 coup, suggested that the Pakistani president should listen to the “verdict” of the people in the Monday balloting and step down.

Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, told AP Television News that “we accept the results with an open heart” and “will sit on opposition benches” in the new parliament.”

“All the King’s men, gone!” proclaimed a banner headline in the Daily Times. “Heavyweights knocked out,” read the Dawn newspaper.

I am wondering what the headlines here will read on January 20, 2009 – as long as we actually get to see elections, Bush and Cheney actually leave, and there’s a Democrat in the White House..

With the support of smaller groups and independent candidates, the opposition could gain the two-thirds majority in parliament needed to impeach Musharraf, who has angered many Pakistanis by allying the country with Washington in 2001 to fight al-Qaida and the Taliban after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

Musharraf has promised to work with whatever government emerges from the election. But the former general is hugely unpopular among the public and opposition parties that have been catapulted into power are likely to find little reason to work with him – particularly since he no longer controls the powerful army.

Sharif has been especially outspoken in demanding that Musharraf be removed and that the Supreme Court justices whom the president sacked late last year be returned to their posts. Those judges were fired as they prepared to rule on whether Musharraf’s re-election last October was constitutional.

If the opposition falls short of enough votes to remove Musharraf, the new government could reinstate the Supreme Court justices and ask them to declare the October election invalid.

Read entire article..

More from the New York Times (Truthout) which calls it a “crushing defeat” for Musharraf.

The results were interpreted here as a repudiation of Mr. Musharraf as well as the Bush administration, which has staunchly backed him for more than six years as its best bet in the campaign against the Islamic militants in Pakistan. American officials will have little choice now but to seek alternative allies from among the new political forces emerging from the vote.

Polls open in Pakistan…

via: Reuters

Fears of violence overshadowed Pakistan’s general election on Monday with 80,000 troops backing up police to watch over a vote that could return a parliament set on driving President Pervez Musharraf from office.

Polls opened at 8 am. (0300 GMT) and will close at 5 pm. (1200 gmt).

The election should have happened last month, but the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto after a political rally in Rawalpindi on December 27 forced a delay.

Read on…

Photo by REUTERS/Mian Khursheed

Buzzflash “Wings of Justice Award” ~ Sibel Edmonds

via: BuzzFlash

The first thing you need to know about Sibel Edmonds is that she has been under a gag order by the Department of Justice for five years. The second thing you should know is that she worked for a time as a FBI translator of Turkish intercepts. The third thing that you need to know is that she claims to have uncovered a covert network of senior American officials who transferred nuclear secrets to third parties.

Edmonds has had closed-door hearings before Congress, but her testimony has apparently been dropped like a hot potato. So it took of all newspapers — one owned by Rupert Murdoch in London — to reveal the extent of Edmonds’ allegations in an article, “For sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets“, and to further uncover that the FBI appears to be lying about the existence of a key piece of evidence that might corroborate Edmonds, in an article subtitled, “The FBI has been accused of covering up a file detailing government dealings with a network stealing nuclear secrets.”

It is hard to distill the importance of what Edmonds is alleging, except to say that, if true, the American government has been allowing the transfer of nuclear secrets that endanger our national security, particularly as it related to the information obtained by the father of the Pakistani bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan. There is also a tantalizing potential tie into another reason why Valerie Plame may have been outed by the Bush Administration.

The BuzzFlash reader who nominated Sibel Edmonds praised her, “Because she is risking her life, her safety, her entire reputation, and her future for the national security and integrity of this country trying to get her story out to the media so that Congress will finally have to act on the corruption and criminal actions taking place at the highest levels of our government that have and continue to put our country at risk. It was incredibly brave of her to speak out through the UK Sunday Times yesterday. Now we’ll see if anything is done to start investigations and clean house.”

In a recent commentary on Bradblog.com, the heroic Vietnam-era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg noted: “For the last two weeks — one could say, for years — the major American media have been guilty of ignoring entirely the allegations of the courageous and highly credible source Sibel Edmonds, quoted in the London Times on January 6, 2008 in a front-page story that was front-page news in much of the rest of the world but was not reported in a single American newspaper or network. It is up to readers to demand that this culpable silent treatment end.”

Surely, Sibel Edmonds deserves to be heard. She accidentally ventured into an area of clandestine operations that literally may put her life at risk, and yet only overseas papers take her claims seriously.

For her courage and tenacity, BuzzFlash honors Sibel Edmonds with this week’s Wings of Justice Award.

I am posting this because it is one of our Critters who nominated Sibel Edmonds. I am glad Sibel is getting more exposure and recognition for her courage.

Mysterious crowd stopped Bhutto’s car

McClatchy Washington Bureau:

The more news that comes out about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the worse it gets. Now there is news from a police officer, who was seriously wounded in the suicide bombing that a mysterious crowd appeared from nowhere and stopped Bhutto’s car, shouting slogans of her Pakistan Peoples Party.

The witness was Ishtiaq Hussain Shah of the Rawalpindi police. As Bhutto’s car headed onto Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Road after an election rally Dec. 27, a crowd appeared from nowhere and stopped the motorcade, shouting slogans of her Pakistan Peoples Party and waving party banners, according to his account.

Bhutto, apparently thinking she was greeting her supporters, emerged through the sunroof of the bulletproof car to wave.

It was Shah’s job to clear the way for the motorcade. But 10 feet from where he was standing, a man in the crowd wearing a jacket and sunglasses raised his arm and shot at the former prime minister. “I jumped to overpower him,” the deputy police superintendent said later. “A mighty explosion took place soon afterwards.”

Currently, it’s a mystery as to who organized the crowd and who they were.

Also, a document has emerged disputing the official government story on Bhutto’s death (no kidding?). This report is extremely damning, and indicative of a larger plot, not just an isolated act of violence.

According to the document, which the paper described as a “top agency” preliminary report, a pistol made by Norinco, a Chinese brand, was recovered from the scene, with the lot number 311-90. An MUV-2 triggering mechanism for the bomb also was found, as had been used in 15 previous suicide bombings in Pakistan, with the same lot number and factory code.

“It is a clear indicator that the same terrorist group is involved in almost all these incidents,” concluded the report, which the paper quoted at length.

Another mystery of the case is why so valuable a report has been buried. Among its other conclusions: Bhutto’s assassin, after shooting her, detonated his own suicide belt. No ambulance was called, and it took 25 minutes to get her to the hospital, only two miles from the scene.

Naturally, the Musharraf government is sticking to its story, even with evidence on film that shots rang out, Bhutto disappeared into her car, and then the explosion occurred. Another government who expects us to disbelieve our own eyes. And a phone call?

Musharraf’s government has stuck to its explanation that Bhutto died when she hit her head on the sunroof’s lever after the bomb went off, despite the emergence of several videos that show the gunman firing, then Bhutto disappearing into her vehicle before the blast. Officials also turned up what they said was a transcript of a telephone conversation between the supposed masterminds — militant Islamists allied with the Taliban — congratulating each other, the next day.

Scotland Yard is assisting in an investigation of the assassination, but they have been told to investigate only the cause of death, and not to try to identify the killer.

Scotland Yard detectives, whom Musharraf called in under pressure from home and abroad, have been told that they’re to investigate only the cause of death, not the killer’s identity. “Providing clarity regarding ‘The precise cause of Ms. Bhutto’s death’ is said to be the principal purpose of the deployment,” said Aidan Liddle, a spokesman for the British High Commission in Islamabad.

To many in Pakistan, it all raises questions about whether the government was complicit in the assassination. To others, it points at the very least to a concerted attempt to hide the massive extent of a security failure.

Now it’s been uncovered that Bhutto’s private security was founded on shaky ground.

Bhutto’s own private-security arrangements seemed poor, chaotic and amateurish. Armored cars are not fitted with sunroofs. Hers was modified in Karachi against all safety advice, according to a security company that operates in that city but spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. After Bhutto’s death, her husband made the startling revelation that she’d been guarded by men he’d met in prison.

Read the whole story here.

Pakistan’s Army Says “Hell No!”

In a follow-up to his post U.S. Boots on the Ground in Pakistan…What a Surprise, Willyloman, at the American Everyman, has this story about Pakistan’s Army objecting to the prospect:

Just as soon as the story broke at the New York Times, about Cheney and Rice planning how to divi up Pakistan, now that “chaos” has broken out, the Pakistan Army says they will not be welcoming US troops with open arms and flowers from the children.

In fact they say “We do not require anybody’s assistance. We are fully capable of doing it on our own,”. “It is not up to the US administration, it is Pakistan’s government who is responsible for this country,” chief military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad told AFP.” AfterDowningStreet story here.

I don’t think they are really getting the whole, “globalization” thing. Do you? You see, globalization means that everybody has to roll over and surrender to “freedom” else they face the wrath of the terrorists… or the CIA, whoever comes first. (Or, as was the case in 1953 Iran, and 1973 Chile, Nicaragua, Italy, Bolivia, and many many others… the CIA were the “terrorists”…)

When told about the CIA getting more of more of a free hand in Pakistan as a result of the Bhutto assassination, they responded by saying “There are no overt or covert US operations inside Pakistan. Such reports are baseless and we reject them.” Yeah, right.

More on the story over at Truthout.

Suicide bomber may have been used to eliminate evidence.

Larisa Alexandrovna, The Raw Story:

US intelligence officials are concerned that the US policy in Pakistan is being held hostage by President Musharraf and factions within the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence).

Benazir Bhutto was killed December 27, 2007, when she stood to wave to the crowd after a political rally in Rawalpindi. Moments later, a suicide bomber detonated himself, killing 25 people, including himself.

After many versions of the official story, the washing of the street one hour after the incident, and public pressure for a proper investigation, an agreement was reached to allow Scotland Yard to conduct their own investigation.

US intelligence officials say, however, that very little evidence will be found, especially if investigators are looking for the suspected shooter. Three former US intelligence officials have told Raw Story that not only is the gunman dead, he was likely the actual target of the suicide bomber.

According to a former high ranking US intelligence official, who wishes to remain anonymous due to the delicate nature of the information, the US intelligence community understands the gunman to have been killed in the blast following Mrs. Bhutto’s assassination.

He was killed, probably not knowing that the suicide bomber was there,” said this source. “We don’t know for sure if the two men arrived together. We do know that the assassin died in the explosion, and was probably meant to.”

Several other US intelligence officials concur that the bomber was likely “inserted” to “clean up” evidence of the shooting, including eliminating the gunman. (Emphasis added)

Go read the whole article here.

U.S. Boots on the Ground in Pakistan… What a Surprise

Willyloman over at the American Everyman has up a great post about the “need” to send US troops and CIA into certain areas of Pakistan…

According to an article in the New York Times, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto has sparked a need for us to send troops into certain areas of Pakistan, along with, the CIA, to help keep Pakistan “safe for democracy”.

And just who is putting this plan together, well, Rice and Cheney, of course; with the CIA, that is.

“The new options for expanded covert operations include loosening restrictions on the C.I.A. to strike selected targets in Pakistan, in some cases using intelligence provided by Pakistani sources…” NYT.

So, because of the assassination of the main opposition to Musharraf’s strangle hold on Pakistan, we are going to turn loose the CIA to attack targets, picked out by, Musharraf? Fucking brilliant.

It seems appropriate to call someone a tool right now…..but it’s so hard to choose…

UK will Assist in Bhutto Investigation

From BBC:

Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf has said UK investigators are to assist in the inquiry into the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

In a televised address, he said Prime Minister Gordon Brown had agreed to send a team of detectives from London to help establish what happened.

He said “terrorists” were behind the murder, and described Ms Bhutto’s death as a “great tragedy” for the nation.

The elections will be postponed until February 18, 2008.

Mr Musharraf said too much damage had been done to polling stations and voter papers during the unrest in the wake of Ms Bhutto’s assassination last Thursday.

He said “miscreants and political elements” had taken advantage of the situation – “looting, burning and killing”.

“Election commission offices, their centres, polling stations and their equipment were all damaged and destroyed. Hence the election commission was facing a big difficulty to hold these elections [on 8 January],” he said.

Go here to read the whole article.

Good Morning from Europe – 383 days to go and the end of the Bush presidency begins tomorrow

The Iowa caucuses, beyond any doubt, is the main topic of interest, when it comes to US politics. In a way people are relieved that the 12 months pre-primary campaign is over and polls will be backed by facts, or not. Some commenters on the articles this post links to, suggest that the Iowa caucuses were not really important at all. Well the candidates don’t think so, they are on a last ditch 36 hrs non stop campaign, so we’ll do them the favour and take this seriously as well.

A must read is “The Telegraph” today. Simon Heffer sighs: “If only we could vote for the next US president”. “Der Spiegel” covers Mitt Romney, the CEO candidate and the importance of New Hampshire for McCain. “The Times” tells you what happens “When Iowa’s music stops”. The Swiss newspaper NZZ, reports on last efforts before the caucuses.

Outside the US the year took a very sad start. Kenya is about to sink into a civil war and tribal clashes. Scenes mindful of the Hutu-Tutsi massacres in Ruanda in 1994 are being reported. The story is covered here, here and here.

Pakistan is still an issue, too. The anticipated postponement of the January 8th elections shows first results. The Bhutto clan has started to dismantle Bilawal’s position. This feuding among family memebers plays nicely into Musharraf’s and the military’s hands. The reaction of the Pakistanis on the announcement of the election committee remains to be seen.

“Europeanview” will be traveling for a couple of days and will most likely not have access to the internet. So stay safe and take care, see y’all again on Monday!

Good Morning from Europe – It’s 2008 and 384 Days to Go

(This traditional dish of fried potatoes with a rolled pickled herring is supposed to get you cured from your hangover on New Year’s Day.)

It is a New Year, but one night of partying and a change in calender dates is not going to change much, when it comes to the state the world is in. So, let us have a look at what is going on and reported on this morning, below the fold: Continue reading

Bhutto report: Musharraf planned to fix elections

From McClatchy:

This just keeps getting more and more interesting.

NAUDERO, Pakistan — The day she was assassinated last Thursday, Benazir Bhutto had planned to reveal new evidence alleging the involvement of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies in rigging the country’s upcoming elections, an aide said Monday.

Bhutto had been due to meet U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., to hand over a report charging that the military Inter-Services Intelligence agency was planning to fix the polls in the favor of President Pervez Musharraf.

Safraz Khan Lashari, a member of the Pakistan People’s Party election monitoring unit, said the report was “very sensitive” and that the party wanted to initially share it with trusted American politicians rather than the Bush administration, which is seen here as strongly backing Musharraf.

“It was compiled from sources within the (intelligence) services who were working directly with Benazir Bhutto,” Lashari said, speaking Monday at Bhutto’s house in her ancestral village of Naudero, where her husband and children continued to mourn her death.

Keep reading…

I’m beginning to wonder how Benazir Bhutto managed to survive as long as she did.

BBC Censors Bhutto Video

The Existentialist Cowboy has an extremely interesting post today, alerting us to the fact that the BBC has censored the portion of Benazir Bhutto’s video where she says Osama bin Laden was murdered. He includes the original video clip from the BBC (YouTube), then adds a link to the BBC website with the same video clip (sans the sentence concerning bin Laden).

Here was the same original video in a post here on The Zoo from two days ago. It was uploaded to YouTube in November 2007, following the first assassination attempt on Bhutto and Frost interview, by AlJazeeraEnglish.

The comment about the murder of bin Laden is at 6:15.

Here is the censored version (downloaded directly from the BBC website):

The missing comment is at about 5:02.

Now, why on earth would they do something like that? Might the answer to that question might go toward solving this crime? Benazir Bhutto may have been the woman who knew too much…

Again, from The Existentialist Cowboy:

Bhutto herself has exposed the fraudulent nature of the Bush/Blair “war on terrorism”. If Bin Laden is dead, as has been reported, then the various tapes that he is alleged to have made are all phony. The war on terrorism itself is a callous, calculated fraud perpetrated by a murderous Bush regime, a murderous Blair regime, a murderous puppet regime of Musharraf.

Below the fold is the exact text of the AlJazeeraEnglish video clip (just the segment that includes the part that was cut from the BBC version):

Continue reading

Latest: Bhutto’s son, 19, to lead Pakistan’s opposition

Bilawal Bhutto, 19, is appointed co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party together with his father Asif Ali Zardari, who will effectively lead the Party until Bilawal has finished his education. The young man will probably play an active role in the upcoming elections, but will return to Oxford to resume his studies next year. Bilawal is still too young to run for office himself, candidates must be at least 25 years of age.

Read more herehere and here.

Rice Scripted Bhutto’s Return then Left her Unprotected

An update on the Benazir Bhutto assassination from the American Everyman:

Two months ago Secretary of State, Condi Rice, convinced Pakistan’s president and current dictator, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to allow exiled Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto back into the deeply troubled country.

Rice also had to convince Bhutto it to come out of exile and go back into public spotlight and the rough and tumble world of Pakistani politics. She did so with a promise of US support and a shared power structure agreement with Musharraf. (Slate story here.)

But after two attempts on her life, beginning almost the minute she touched down in Pakistan, one might start to wonder if the former Prime Minister wasn’t set up from the beginning. Especially when you consider Bhutto was sent there with no additional security.

However, the State Department didn’t offer her any personal protection, even though they all knew that Bhutto’s past history with the Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda would make her an instant target. Rice didn’t even offer the services of private firms like Blackwater, which the State Department routinely uses all across the globe to protect important diplomats.

The results? An attempt on her life the moment she touched down in Pakistan which killed 158 innocent civilians and another one this week that did take the life of Benazir Bhutto. At least, one of the three official causes of death took the life of the “last hope of Pakistan.”

Keep reading…

Bhutto Assassination News

Here’s a roundup of news on the assassination death of Benazir Bhutto.

McClatchy: As deadly protests continued to rage on Pakistan’s streets, the country’s Interior Ministry said that Bhutto — buried Friday without an autopsy — had died after she was thrown against the lever of her car’s sunroof, fracturing her skull.

Initially, the government had said that flying shrapnel killed Bhutto, 54, after a shooting and suicide bombing as she left a political rally in the city of Rawalpindi.

The Australian: Ms Bhutto, 54, began her day meeting party leaders to plan the campaign for parliamentary elections, scheduled for January 8 but now thrown into doubt. Backed by the US, she had hoped to win a third term as prime minister, restoring democratic rule after President Pervez Musharraf’s resignation as army chief last month.

After talking tactics with senior aides, she met Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the end of his two-day visit to Pakistan. Ms Bhutto told Mr Karzai that if elected again, she would work with him to fight the Taliban and al-Qa’ida militants who are sheltering in northwestern Pakistan and who have repeatedly threatened to kill her.

Muhammed Salman, a senior member of the PPP, said he was standing a few dozen metres from her vehicle when he heard the blast.

“When I turned around there were lots of people lying dead in the roads,” he said. “I thought our vehicle had left safely and that she would be safe. Then I got back to the hotel and realised what had happened.”

Other witnesses gave conflicting accounts as shocked bystanders and emergency workers carried the dead and injured from the blast site. In the confusion, party officials originally said that Ms Bhutto had escaped unhurt. But within minutes they announced she had been wounded and was in surgery, and half an hour later a PPP official, Rehman Malik, broke the news of her death.

Huffington Post has slides of skull x-rays purported to be from Ms Bhutto.

Continue reading

Police abandoned security posts before Bhutto assassination

This was just added to Raw Story. I can’t believe it..

via: Raw Story

No autopsy performed on body; docs say bullet wounds not found

Police abandoned their security posts shortly before Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto’s assassination Thursday, according to a journalist present at the time, and unanswerable questions remain about the cause of her death, because an autopsy was never performed.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister on Friday said that Bhutto was not killed by gunshots, as had been widely reported, and doctors at Rawalpindi General Hospital, where she died, say there were no bullet marks on the former prime minister’s body, according to India’s IBNLive.com. Furthermore, according to the news agency, there was no formal autopsy performed on Bhutto’s body before she was buried Friday.

CNN is now reporting that it wasn’t gunshots or shrapnel that killed Bhutto, but that she died from hitting the sunroof of the car she was riding in. The network said sources in Pakistan’s Interior Ministry said nothing entered her skull, no bullets or shrapnel.

Apparently there was some kind of lever on the sunroof she was standing through, and she hit her head on that CNN reported Friday morning.

Earlier in the day Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz told a Pakistani news channel, “The report says she had head injuries – an irregular patch – and the X-ray doesn’t show any bullet in the head. So it was probably the shrapnel or any other thing has struck her in her said. That damaged her brain, causing it to ooze and her death. The report categorically says there’s no wound other than that,” according to IBNLive.

Perhaps more shockingly, an attendee at the rally where Bhutto was killed says police charged with protecting her “abandoned their posts,” leaving just a handful of Bhutto’s own bodyguards protecting her. Read on…