Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Doctor, the Depleted Uranium, and the Dying Children (Video)

Deadly Dust – Todesstaub (2004)

4. April 1949! The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was established . During 60 years the main objective of this organization was to “safeguard freedom and security of its member countries by political and military means”, always following “values of democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law and the peaceful resolution of disputes” [find these words here]. What many do not know, is that the weapons used in the wars carried out here and there during this last decade contain a radioactive material, the so called depleted Uranium (DU). The consequences of the use of DU weapons in arms conflicts are disastrous. In the documentary “Deadly Dust” (which by the way was practically censored in Germany, although produced initially for the German TV) the filmmakers Freider Wagner and and Valentin Thurn show the horrendous reality of the persons and the regions contaminated with DU. Dr. Siegwart-Horst Gunther, a former colleague of Albert Schweitzer, and Tedd Weyman of the Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC) traveled to Iraq and Yugoslavia, from Germany and Canada respectively, to assess uranium contamination. The stories they tell show that the NATO have been committing serious war crimes!


Friday, 22 July 2011


Monsanto's 'Superweeds' Gallop Through Midwest

— By Tom Philpott

Tue Jul. 19, 2011  Back in the mid-'90s, Monsanto rolled out seeds genetically engineered to withstand its Roundup herbicide. To ensure huge growth potential, the company shrewdly chose the most widely planted, highly subsidized US crops to grace with its new "Roundup Ready" technology: corn, soy, and cotton.

The pitch was simple and powerful: No longer would large-scale farmers need to worry about weeds. All they would have to do was douse their fields with Roundup, which would wipe out all plant life except the desired crop. Farmers leapt at the technology. It represented a fantastic labor-saving opportunity, allowing them to manage ever-larger swaths of land without having to pay more workers.

Today, Roundup Ready crops blanket US farmland. According to USDA figures, 94 percent of soybeans and more than 70 percent of corn and cotton planted in the US contain the Roundup-resistant gene. Back-of-the envelope calculations tell me that nearly 200,000 square miles of prime farmland—a land mass about two-thirds the size of Texas—now grow crops rigged to flourish amid an annual monsoon of Roundup.

Well, in what is surely the least surprising, most-anticipated major development in the history of US agriculture, farmers are discovering that when you spend years dousing land a single herbicide, ecosystems adapt. Roundup Ready crops, meet Roundup-defying weeds.

Such "superweeds" have been vexing farmers for several years now, but this season, according to a stark report in Monsanto's home-town paper The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the problem is galloping out of control. In recent years, farmers have had to supplement Roundup with other, harsher herbicides, subjecting their land to highly toxic chemical cocktails. But now, weeds are developing resistance to the cocktails, too. The Post-Dispatch reports that "in some areas of the state, certain weeds have become resistant to three herbicides. In Illinois, some weeds have become resistant to four."

The problem is accelerating, because the resistant weeds are driving out their non-resistant counterparts, and also cross-pollinating them with the resistant gene, spreading it far and wide:

These weeds adapt faster and more vigorously than their weed cousins, choking fields and clogging irrigation ditches so badly water can't pass through. "Pollen can transfer the resistant trait; that's the problem," said Kevin Bradley, a weed scientist with the University of Missouri. "There's not much we can do about pollen flying through the air, and that's why we see such rapid spread of resistance."

Now, as I reported recently, the USDA openly acknowledges the superweed problem and even delivered a pretty good explainer on it in its environmental impact statement (PDF) on Roundup Ready alfalfa. Yet it keeps deregulating or choosing not to regulate at all new Roundup Ready crops, all of them quite widely planted. This year alone, the agency has green-lighted Roundup Ready versions of alfalfa (a major cow feed); sugar beets (source of half of US sugar), and most recently, Kentucky bluegrass (popular lawn turf). These dubious USDA decisions will likely bring millions more acres—including lawns, parks, and golf courses near you—under the Roundup Ready domain. From the USDA's perspective, superweeds—and the toxic cocktails they call forth upon the to land—are simply something we have to live with.

As for farmers, crop prices are high enough—thanks, ethanol!—that they're still eking out a profit despite having to buy and spray the extra herbicides, the Post-Dispatch reports. And in many cases, Monsanto's market dominance is so complete that farmers literally have no other alternative than to buy Roundup Ready seeds. For example, it's virtually impossible to buy non-Roundup Ready sugar beet seeds.

As for Monsanto, well, as I reported Tuesday, Roundup sales are booming. The company expects to clock $700 million in profit from that product alone this year. And it has a plan for complaints about Roundup resistance. It will develop crops resistant to other poisons, creating whole new cycles of profit and ecological destruction. The Post-Dispatch reports:

There is, however, some hope in the pipeline. Monsanto is working on developing soybeans and cotton that are resistant to the chemical dicamba. The cotton could be on the market within three years.

Dicamba is a truly nasty poison—it makes the Pesticide Action Network's "bad actor" list, and is classified as a "developmental or reproductive toxin.

Meanwhile, Roundup's status as a relatively benign agrichemical poison is coming under withering attack. The latest: in a report last month (PDF) the European NGO Earth Open Source delivered an impressive body of evidence that Monsanto's flagship herbicide causes "endocrine disruption, damage to DNA, reproductive and developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity, and cancer, as well as birth defects." Those are explosive claims, given that Roundup and other forms of glyphosate are now the most-used herbicide in the world. I'll be digging into the report over the next couple of weeks.

Tom Philpott is the food and ag blogger for Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here. To follow him on Twitter, click here. Get Tom Philpott's RSS feed.

US to open Consulate in Kerkuk

The PRT missions are now coming to an end and will be replaced by US consulates.

The US has opened a consulate in Basra and in Erbil, they are now going to open one in Kirkuk.

Trailing iraq's cigarette smugglers: bandits, border guards and big profits

Saleh Elias
wed 20 jul 11

NIQASH’s correspondent follows the illegal nicotine trail, as he joins local smugglers taking cigarettes into Syria. Dodging border guards and bandits, he meets the locals risking their lives to deliver millions of profitable packs to smokers every day.

Several days ago, two soldiers and a member of the public were wounded and around 50 others arrested, following a clash between the Iraqi armed forces and militants. But these casualties and arrests were not the result of any “war against terror”. Instead it was to do with a war against one particular drug: nicotine. The violence had been between cigarette smugglers and military operating along the Iraqi-Syrian border.

Gunmen apparently fired on the vehicle that the commander of the border guards’ regiment near Bi'r Qasim in western Ninawa province was travelling in. A member of the same patrol, Khaled Ahmad, reported that the group was on a mission to intercept smugglers ferrying goods into Syria.

“We have fought many battles with smugglers who outnumbered us and were better armed,” Ahmad said. “They carry machine guns and binoculars and their trucks are escorted by 4WD vehicles until they get to the border of Syria and Iraq.”

“Smuggling cigarettes is a profitable business,” Mosul stock market trader Hamed al-Jibouri told NIQASH; deals between cigarette traders are often done in Mosul’s local stock market with brokers playing a major role in the transactions and negotiations. “Cigarettes are imported legally from Turkey and Jordan, then brought in through Erbil and Anbar by influential Mosul merchants.”

Turkey and Jordan, from where many of the cigarettes originally come, also border on Syria, but these are far harder to cross illicitly. Dozens of warehouses receive millions of cigarettes every day. A master case costs between US$200 and US$300 – each master case contains 50 cartons of cigarettes, which in turn contains 10 packs of cigarettes each. Each master case contains 10,000 cigarettes.

But in fact, most of this activity is legal. The dubious activity really only begins at the Syrian border. In Syria cigarette prices are higher and smugglers make a profit by bringing the cigarette cartons from Mosul to Syrian border areas, around 160km away.

Most of the journey is made openly though and recently NIQASH correspondent, Elias Saleh, undertook the same journey as the cigarettes do every day.

The first leg of the journey involved riding with Hassan Yousef, a young villager in his 20s. Yousef was carrying the cases of cigarettes in a lightweight, late-model Kia truck to Sinjar, a small town near the Syrian border. The young man had not completed his education but worked for what he described as one of the “companies” smuggling cigarettes across the border.

“Actually it’s not a company officially,” Yousef explained himself. “But the structure is like that of a real company.”

His “company” charges US$8 per pack of cigarettes if the buyer wants insurance; the price goes down to US$4 if they don’t want insurance. “Then guys like me transport the goods. There are around 50 Kia trucks and each can carry up to 120 master cases. There are also some other larger vehicles that can take bigger loads,” he said. Yousef loaded around a hundred master cases onto his truck and the journey began.

Another smuggler, who wanted to remain anonymous, believed that around 3,000 master cases were being smuggled into Syria daily. This was despite the tense political situation in Syria. When Syria was more peaceful, he was sure that this amount would have been double.

“And if the money we pay the border guards isn’t enough to guarantee the safe delivery of our goods, then we will use our guns to make sure our Syrian customers get their deliveries,” he added.

Indeed, at a security checkpoint overseen by the Iraqi army Yousef’s truck was stopped. The soldier on duty asked him what his destination was. Without any hesitation whatsoever Yousef told the soldier that his goods were bound for Syria. With a complicit smile, the soldier waved him onwards.

At this stage, the mid-sized Kia was joined by four other vehicles and the group made for a ragged convoy along a rough dirt road. During the two hour journey, the only sights one saw were a few dusty villages, one of which was Yousef’s home town.

At one point, the convoy appeared to be trying to avoid being another military checkpoint. At the previous checkpoint nobody seemed to have been worried about what they were doing with so many cigarettes but the drivers had been forewarned that the soldiers at this next checkpoint would not be so friendly.

During the voyage, Yousef also continually telephoned the convoy’s forward scout. The scout’s role was to check the road ahead and to tell the drivers which route to take and whether it was safe to proceed. The smugglers take many risks. Some of the biggest dangers are the border guards, army troops and customs officers. Even worse though, are local bandits.

When we met this trip’s scout later on, he explained the importance of his role. "There is no room for mistakes,” he told NIQASH. “The total value of the car and its cargo is estimated at US$45,000.”

Near the Sanouni neighbourhood in Sinjar, Yousef and the other drivers stopped their trucks and allowed some other men, who were waiting for them there, to unload their precious cargo into more vehicles.

Sinjar is located in one of the areas subject to territorial disputes between the Iraqi government and the government of the semi-autonomous state of Iraqi Kurdistan. And the looser security situation there, with a variety of different military forces in charge, together with complicity between locals, smugglers and border guards, make this area an optimal one for the smuggling goods across the two nations’ borders.

At this last stop for Yousef in Sinjar, he explains that the Kurdish border guards here have ties with the smugglers but that they will not allow foreigners to bring vehicles into the area. This is why the local men must transfer the contraband to other vehicles and then take them into the town proper. At this point Yousef’s job was done. “The goods will find their way into Syria with others,” he declared.

NIQASH’s correspondent however continued, following the path that the smugglers would take and eventually encountering a police patrol. The patrol, headed by Lieutenant Said Khader, was stationed only a few meters away from the Iraq-Syria border.

And the lieutenant was quick to deny what insiders had already said: that border police charged US$1 for every master case of cigarettes they see carried by smugglers.

“The smuggling is illegal,” Khader said. “But it does not harm the local economy. On the contrary, it’s bringing in foreign currency, stimulating commerce here and providing unemployed villagers with employment opportunities,” he explained.

Khader said he knew how badly local villagers needed work and explained that he would actually prefer to be far more lenient on the smugglers. However he was concerned that if he was, this might also aid would-be terrorists and militant extremists.

“We fear that the profits from smuggling would be used to finance terrorist acts or as a cover for the smuggling of more dangerous items such as guns and drugs,” Khader concluded.

The last stop on the cigarette smuggling route is a village just 500 meters away from Syria. After the sun sets, hundreds of porters start their work day, loading the cigarettes onto their backs, preparing to complete the last leg of the contraband’s journey by foot.

One of the porters, Sabah Shammo, 21, told NIQASH that since he had started working for the smugglers he had not had a peaceful night’s sleep. “Every night I carry four cases of cigarettes on my back. They weigh around 60 kilograms and I get IQD75,000 [around US$63] for that. Sometimes I carry two loads and earn double,” he boasted.

As the policeman Khader had said, there was little alternative for many of the young people like Shammo, living in the remote area and coping with high unemployment. “Hundreds of families live on the income from smuggling,” Khader explained. “If the smugglers were not here, then I think people would join the gangs of thieves here and become bandits.”

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Irak Türkmen Cephesi Başkanı İran’da

Irak Türkmen Cephesi Başkanı ve Kerkük Millet Vekili Erşet Salihi başkanlığında bir heyet İran İslam Cumhuriyeti’ne ziyarette bulundu. Ziyarette bulunan heyet, İran Dışişleri Bakanlığındaki sorumlular ve İran Şura Meclisi üyeleri ile bir araya geldi. Görüşmelerde Irak Türkmen Cephesi ile İran İslam Cumhuriyeti arasındaki ilişkiler ve bu ilişkilerin devamı ele alınırken, taraflar; Irak’ın istikrarı bölgenin istikrarı için çok önemli olduğunu vurguladılar. İranlı yetkililer; Irak Anayasasında yer alan tüm Türkmen halkının haklarını onayladıklarının altını çizdiler. Taraflar ayrıca; İranlı iş adamları ile Türkmen iş adamlarının aralarında ticari ilişkilerinin ilerlemesini ve 30 milyona yakın olan İran Türkmenleri ile Irak Türkmenleri arasında kültürel işbirliğin önemi de vurgulandı. Heyette; Türkmen Millet Vekili Hasan Özmen ve Millet Vekili Mudrike Ahmet de yer aldılar.

Yorum Kapalı

IRAQ: The UN Chapter Seven Sanctions continue

U.N. SANCTIONS ON IRAQ expire 31 Dec 2011 ?

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1284 (1999), published on Dec 1999 has 4 sections.

The UNSC has stated that they (Iraq and Kuwait) have made limited progress on the fate of Kuwaiti national archives.The UNSC press release is also requesting that the Iraqi government create a Inter-Ministerial Committee. Prime Minister Maliki has supported this however, this has not been completed. The UNSC requested that the funds in support of this operation continue for another six months bringing this to 31 Dec 2011.

This particular UN Resolution against Iraq has an expiration date of 31 Dec 2011 and at this time the UNSC will conduct a review and will advise if this will be extended into 2012.

Security Council Press Statement on Iraq/Kuwait - 22 June 2011

United Nations Security Resolution 1284

Paragraph 14 - UN Resolutions 1284

Security Council Press Statement on Iraq/Kuwait - 22 June 2011

Friday, 1 July 2011

Turkey's Main Opposition Leader Meets Iraqi President at Socialist International Gathering

w w w . t u r k i s h w e e k l y . n e t

Turkey's Main Opposition Leader Meets Iraqi President at Socialist International Gathering

Head of Turkey's main opposition party on Friday met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on the sidelines of a council meeting of the Socialist International in Athens, Greece.

"I am here to talk to Mr. Kilicdaroglu and to strengthen ties with Turkey. I am inviting him to Iraq," Talabani told reporters in his meeting with Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the Republican People's Party.

Talabani said Turkey constituted "an important example" for the Muslim world, adding Turkey also played a crucial role for Syria.