July 21, 2014

Fires in NW Territories in Line with ‘Unprecedented’ Burn

Fires in NW Territories in Line with ‘Unprecedented’ Burn

Brian Kahn Climate Central July 17, 2014

An aerial view of the Birch Creek Fire complex, which seared 250,000 acres as of Wednesday. Photo: NWTFire/Facebook

For the past few weeks, dry and warm weather have fueled large forest fires across Canada’s remote Northwest Territories. The extent of those fires is well above average for the year to-date, and is in line with climate trends of more fires burning in the northern reaches of the globe.

Of the 186 wildfires in the Northwest Territories to-date this year, 156 of them are currently burning. That includes the Birch Creek Fire complex, which stretches over 250,000 acres.

The amount of acres burned in the Northwest Territories is six times greater than the 25-year average to-date according to data from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center.

Boreal forests like those in the Northwest Territories are burning at rates “unprecedented” in the past 10,000 years according to the authors of a study put out last year. The northern reaches of the globe are warming at twice the rate as areas closer to the equator, and those hotter conditions are contributing to more widespread burns.

The combined boreal forests of Canada, Europe, Russia and Alaska, account for 30 percent of the world’s carbon stored in land, carbon that’s taken up to centuries to store. Forest fires like those currently raging in the Northwest Territories, as well as ones in 2012 and 2013 in Russia, can release that stored carbon into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. In addition, soot from forest fires can also darken ice in the Arctic and melt it faster.

Related: Arctic’s Boreal Forests Burning At ‘Unprecedented’ Rate

Andrew Freedman Climate Central July 22, 2013

In a sign of how swiftly and extensively climate change is reshaping the Arctic environment, a new study has found that the region’s mighty boreal forests — stands of mighty spruce, fir, and larch trees that serve as the gateway to the Arctic Circle — have been burning at an unprecedented rate during the past few decades. The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the boreal forests have not burned at today’s high rates for at least the past 10,000 years, and climate change projections show even more wildfire activity may be to come.

The study links the increase in fire activity to increased temperatures and drier conditions in the region, which is driving wholescale changes in the massive forests that encircle the northern portion of the globe.

Posted at: July 21, 2014 - 1:00 pm -- Posted by: Cameron Smith -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post


Slaughter-Free Milk Is Great for Cows, But Not the Environment

Slaughter-Free Milk Is Great for Cows, But Not the Environment

Josh Harkinson, Mother Jones, July 21, 2004

Unlike most male dairy calves, Harry, who was born at the Ahimsa Dairy, won’t be turned into veal. Photo:Ahimsa Dairy

If you don’t eat beef because you feel sorry for those cows in Chick-fil-A ads, then you probably shouldn’t drink milk either. The typical male calf born to a dairy cow becomes veal. The typical female is milked for five years—a quarter of her natural lifetime—then sent to the abattoir to become pet food or low-grade hamburger meat. Elsie the Cow, Borden Dairy Company’s famous cartoon logo, is smiling only because she doesn’t realize that she’s about to get euthanized with a cattle gun.

Yet if you’re an ethical vegetarian who still can’t bear to give up milk, you now have another option: slaughter-free dairy, which comes from farms where cows never get killed.

As vegetarianism gains popularity, slaughter-free milk could become a bona fide food trend—but there’s a catch: It might take a toll on the environment. Cows are already the nation’s single largest source of methane, a greenhouse gas produced by oil extraction, decomposing trash, and the guts of grazing animals that’s as much as 105 times more potent than carbon dioxide. A single cow farts and belches enough methane to match the carbon equivalent of the average car.

Small, humane dairies can certainly find other ways to mitigate their environmental impacts. The Gita Nagari and Ahimsa dairies employ cow manure to fertilize their organic vegetables and bull power to plow their fields, avoiding carbon-intensive tractors and chemical fertilizers. And the Gita Nagari dairy uses an anaerobic digester to convert manure into a gas that residents of the dairy use for cooking—but this sort of thing would be hard to implement on a larger scale.

Posted at: July 21, 2014 - 12:35 pm -- Posted by: Cameron Smith -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post


Understanding the Food System Week by Week

Understanding the Food System Week by Week

Katie Moore Utne Reader July 15, 2014

Navigating our food system can be a challenging process—each month it seems like there’s a new trend and understanding our daily impact within a larger context can be difficult. That’s why The Lexicon of Sustainability has kicked off The Food List. Each week for a year, the project breaks down specific topics such as food waste, packaging, seeds, and humane treatment. This week’s theme is traceability and it focuses on the seafood industry. The comprehensive guide provides readers with information in a multitude of formats which can appeal to a wide range of ages. The topic’s webpage features terms related to the topic, a film, activities, information artwork, interviews and a recipe, all provided so readers can learn about overfishing and accountability efforts. Then when consumers go to the grocery store, they have better knowledge about how fish is raised and what to watch out for on product labels.

The lists are compiled from a multitude of sources, from environmentalists to consumer rights groups to farmers themselves. The project’s overall aim is to “bring transparency and accountability to our nation’s food system and the impact it has on our environment and health.” You can sign up for The Food List or visit their website each week to read up on the latest (and past) themes.

Posted at: July 21, 2014 - 12:30 pm -- Posted by: Cameron Smith -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

July 20, 2014

Canadians at odds with Harper gov’t priorities: Finance Canada focus-group report

Cdns at odds with Harper gov’t priorities: Finance Canada focus-group report
Dean Beeby The Canadian Press/National Newswatch Canada July 20, 2014

OTTAWA – Public-opinion research for the federal Finance Department suggests key government policies are out of step with Canadians’ priorities, including the Northern Gateway project.

Members of focus groups consulted prior to the February budget had “little enthusiasm” for the proposed bitumen pipeline to the British Columbia coast — even those who said they support the controversial project.

And among the 12 groups consulted — from Coquitlam, B.C., to Bridgewater, N.S. — the economy itself was not a top-of-mind concern.

Rather, the groups spontaneously raised education, health care, pensions and veterans as their key issues.

They also called for more processing and refining of Canada’s oil resources at home, and to do so in a more environmentally safe manner.

The findings of the January focus groups, commissioned from NRG Research Group, suggest the Harper government’s central policy themes — trade and the economy, with an emphasis on energy exports — are resonating less with ordinary Canadians.

The report also found that lower-income households were less sanguine about the state of the economy than wealthier households, citing few well-paid jobs being generated and saying “the gap between rich and poor is growing.”

“Unbalanced or unequal are words that come up frequently to describe the economy for these individuals,” says the document. “Participants often stated that economic decisions tended to support the corporate sector more than average families.”

The focus groups, two in each community, were conducted in Coquitlam, B.C.; Calgary; Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont.; Toronto; Quebec City; and Bridgewater, N.S.

Posted at: July 20, 2014 - 12:48 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Posting will be sporadic for the next week

Jim comment:

For medical reasons, I will not be posting for much of next week. In my absence, Cameron will be doing some research and posting. I will post when I can.

I hope to return to a regular schedule on the site by next Sunday, July 27.

Posted at: July 20, 2014 - 12:26 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

July 19, 2014

Weekly Headlines

Click on a headline below to go to that news item

Thursday, July 17, 2014

World News

Ukraine: Out of control oligarchs & Shot down over Ukraine passenger plane: If neither Donetsk People’s Republic forces nor the Ukrainian military brought down the aircraft, who did?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

World News

Tracking the Islamic State’s gains in Syria and Iraq & Defiant Cheney accepts no blame for Iraq

World News

Libyan jihadists in Syria and Iraq returning home to fight in Libya’s civil war

World News

International football philanthropy: Algeria National Team donates £5m prize money to Gaza; German star, Mesut Özil, gives money to Brazilian sick kids amid claims he may yet donate his £350,000 [$600,000] World Cup winnings to the children of Gaza—”Maybe in the future, who knows?”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

World News

Stopping the Western Axis juggernaut: Building a BRICS wall

World News

Syrian hardship and suffering & Jordan: Still between Iraq and a hard place


The Islamic State (formerly ISIS) demand for a Caliphate is about power, not religion

Monday, July 14, 2014

Regional News

Canada may be losing global race to get natural gas to Asia, as concerns loom large about wilder weather due to climate change


The dangers of granting private control to an essential public resource. Profiteers cashing in on western USA’s catastrophic water crisis


Broken ground: The high costs of liquefied natural gas

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Protecting our water, or not: What you need to know about the coming jellyfish apocalypse


Protecting our water, or not: Detroit’s fight for public water is also ours

Posted at: July 19, 2014 - 12:01 am -- Posted by: SSNews -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

July 18, 2014

BRICS size up big opportunities

The Business Forum of the BRICS group of emerging powers, meeting this week as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa formalize their trading links, highlights the opportunities now opening up as companies in the five nations formulate deeper ties.

Big business opportunities seduce BRICS entrepreneurs
Mario Osava Inter Press Service International July 15, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded and related links.

FORTALEZA, Brazil – The growing vitality of the group of countries made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), which is beginning to formalize its institutions even as it tries to bridge very disparate realities, seems to be partly cemented by increasing links between its companies. The complementary nature of their economies was highlighted at the BRICS Business Forum on Monday July 14, one of the meetings prior to the sixth annual summit of the five leaders, inaugurated Tuesday July 15 in the northeastern city of Fortaleza and closing on Wednesday in Brasilia.

More than 700 members of the business community participated in the entrepreneurial debates, designed to promote US$3.9 billion worth of contracts in the sectors of agriculture, infrastructure, logistics, information technology, health and energy.

The Business Forum of the BRICS group of emerging powers began its work five years ago.

There is “an immense complementarity” among BRICS members, which can be appropriately used to greatly benefit all its countries, said Marcos Jank, head of corporate affairs at BRF, a Brazilian transnational and leading meats exporter.

“China has an enormous market and Brazil has vast reserves of natural resources,” with a lot of productive land to supply large populations, he said.

This is one way of looking at what many criticize as unbalanced trade, in which Brazil exports virtually exclusively commodities, especially soya and iron ore, and imports mainly manufactured goods from China.

But integration of production chains and higher added value in exports can happen even in the agriculture and livestock business, Jank said. Instead of importing soya to feed its meat production, China could import the meat from Brazil, he said.

A major hurdle to the growth of trade and productive integration between the BRICS countries are barriers of all kinds, tariff and non-tariff, technical, subsidies and other protectionist measures that affect trade, particularly in agricultural products, Jank complained.

India has prohibitive tariffs of up to 100% on Brazilian chicken, while South Africa “is closed” and Russia is a “volatile” market, opening and closing in rapid succession for Brazilian meats, he said.

Nevertheless, trade between the five countries has multiplied 10-fold between 2002 and 2012, reaching $276 billion, according to the World Trade Organization. The share of the BRICS group in global trade has doubled from eight to 16% between 2001 and 2011.

Two new instruments that will be formally created at the summit contradict views that the group had little chance of integration because of its political and historical differences, disparate levels of development and even commercial strategies.

These are the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA), a common fund to combat financial crises.

Posted at: July 18, 2014 - 4:15 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

The inconsistencies of war: In Syria, Islamic State using captured resources and Western-supplied aid to build its credibility in its new realm

Syria conflict: Western countries sending millions of pounds in aid to Isis-controlled regions
Isabel Hunter The Independent UK July 16, 2014

Visit this page for its map, photos and video.

Gaziantep, on the Turkish border – Western governments are sending millions of pounds of aid to areas held by the radical Islamic group Isis in northern Syria, The Independent can reveal.

The aid, which is paid for by the UK, European and US governments, consists of food, medicine and hygiene kits. It is brought into the country through the war-torn north from the two last remaining border posts open with Turkey in Reyhanli and Kilis.

Western groups such as Mercy Corps International, the Norwegian Refugee Council, World Vision, the International Rescue Committee and the United Nations World Food Programme provide supplies to hundreds of thousands of people every month across the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

This includes towns such as Raqqa, Manbij and Jarablus, which have witnessed beheadings, crucifixions and other draconian interpretations of sharia since Isis took over early this year.

“We have lots of direct shipments into Isis-held areas. Nearly all of our trucks go through the Turkish border post near Kilis. Sometimes they get stuck en route, and we have to wait two or three weeks for them to get there if they get held up by fighting or another opposition group which isn’t happy that we’re sending aid through an Isis checkpoint,” said a Western aid worker. Aid groups say their aim is to help vulnerable people, not to support the rule of Isis. Mercy Corps, which has headquarters in the UK and the US, has received £27.3m from the UK Department for International Development for humanitarian activities in Syria.

A spokeswoman for Mercy Corps said: “We have been delivering essential aid to hundreds of thousands of civilians in need on all sides of the conflict, irrespective of race, ethnicity, religion or political affiliation – as an independent, impartial humanitarian organisation, that is our mandate.”

Isis uses social media to demonstrate the brutality with which it treats its enemies and those who break its laws. But it uses the same media to show it distributing aid and administering healthcare to people under its rule.

Its ability to deliver free aid and free fuel has been a major factor in persuading residents of recently conquered towns such as Mosul to accept its rule.

Aid workers say Isis, which has kidnapped Western journalists and workers in the past, lets them work mostly without interference. “They’re happy to let us work on the large part without preconditions,” said one Western aid worker.

Isis is also luring doctors and nurses with large salaries in return for their loyalty, a Syrian doctor working for a Norwegian medical NGO in Raqqa told The Independent.

“They are buying people one by one – they are offering doctors up to 100,000 Syrian pounds a month (£390), which is a fortune there now.

“At the beginning they would take any aid they didn’t have to pay for, but since they announced the establishment of the caliphate, they are running their own services so that it can become more like a state.”

Millions in US, EU aid to Syria flow through ISIS regions
Jason Ditz Antiwar.com News USA July 17, 2014

Many millions of dollars in humanitarian aid poured into Syria by the US and various European Union nations have been coming almost entirely through a single route: starting in the Turkish border crossing of Kilis.

From there, the aid is spread throughout much of rebel-held Syria, but the lion’s share goes straight through Raqqa, the de facto capital city of the ISIS state, dubbed The Islamic State (TIS).

It’s working great for ISIS, which aid groups say has let them operate virtually entirely without hassle. Indeed, some report that ISIS has been using its bankroll of money, much of it seized in Mosul, to attract doctors to Raqqa and the surrounding area to work in concert with the Western aid flow.

Civilians in TIS need aid as much as people anywhere else, and aid groups say that’s not a concern. What may be, however, is that ISIS has been funneling aid supplies into newly conquered cities like Mosul, and using that Western-supplied aid to build their credibility in their new realm.

Posted at: July 18, 2014 - 3:57 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

The price of calamity: MH17 and Ukraine’s dilemma. Getting past the lies & 10 questions Russia wants Ukraine to answer

History shows passenger plane shootdowns often mistakes. Shootdowns of passenger planes are rare and usually reflect confusion over whether the target was military.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17: Who could have shot down plane?
Huffington Post United Kingdom July 17, 2014

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Just minutes after reports emerged that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 had crashed in Eastern Ukraine, speculation and accusation began about who could be responsible for downing the flight.

Malaysian 777 shot down over Ukraine updated
Gordon Duff with Jim W. Dean Veterans Today USA July 17, 2014

Jim comment: Corporate North American media reports are pure war-time propaganda. Who shot down the aircraft, and why, remains unknown. But there are a number of theories outside the Western Axis ‘party-line’. Several are offered in this round-up.

Despite hysteria on Malaysia Airlines MH17, little solid evidence
Jason Ditz Antiwar.com News USA July 18, 2014

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Shock over the crash of Malaysia Airlines MH17 in eastern Ukraine, and speculation about whether it was shot down, has morphed into outright hysteria, not so much about the 298 people who died on board, but about who was responsible.

There is a shocking amount of speculation at this point, and a lot of it is based on incredibly flimsy evidence, with the assorted players in the region all crossing their fingers and hoping the blame eventually falls on someone convenient for them.

Right now, everyone is denying responsibility for the shoot-down, and the desperate array of dubious evidence pointing in a million different directions makes it impossible to know the truth. That investigators from Ukraine et al. seem focused primarily in shifting the blame to a politically convenient target only adds to the difficulty of getting an honest assessment of the incident.

Below: Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.

MH17 and Ukraine’s dilemma
Binoy Kampmark CounterPunch USA July 18-20, 2014

It’s the sort of thing that would see any airline liquidate and vanish. Two lost aircraft in the course of months, one that has yet to be found, having veered off in a fit of perverse mindedness; another, shot down allegedly by militants in a contested area of a country where air traffic is heavy.

Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, a Boeing 777, had 295 people on board. (Some figures suggest 298.) It was on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, explaining the vast bulk of the victims being from the Netherlands. Australia came in second, with 27. It was packed specialists and sages on the treatment of AIDS. The aircraft was shot down, in all likelihood by a surface-to-air missile emanating from rebel-held areas in Ukraine.

The first baffling thing about the loss of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was that it showed that airliners were making use of eastern Ukrainian airspace, notably the eastern portion. This bore eerily similar reminders of previous jetliners which had suffered the fate of being identified as a target with military profiles. In 1988, the USS Vincennes notoriously shot down an Iranian liner over the Strait of Hormuz. It had, according to the crew, the profile of an F-14.

The fact that heavy international traffic continued in eastern Ukrainian airspace may well suggest more than a mere slipup in aviation awareness. Profits and continued convenience matter in the world of aviation travel. It also suggests a near negligent sense of the dangerous conflict in eastern Ukraine that has now moved into aerial operations and engagements. (Only on Wednesday, it is alleged that a Ukrainian fighter jet was shot down by Russian forces.) Allegations issue from both sides about inflicting loss on aircraft.

Some airlines immediately suspended using the routes. A spokesperson for Lufthansa suggested that east Ukrainian airspace would be avoided “by a wide margin”. A dramatic emptying of the routes, evidenced by radar tracking, followed. But such bodies of aviation as the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had made it clear some three months prior that dangers were genuine. Its order under the “special rules” section of its site outlines the prohibition relevant to American pilots, airlines, charter carriers, and those under the umbrella of FAA jurisdiction.

It specifically references various parts of southern Ukraine. “No person described in paragraph (A) may conduct flight operations in the portion of the Simferopol (UKFV) Fir within the following lateral limits…” Critics of this will naturally point out the fact that this is a reference to Crimea, an area distinctly outside the reference of the crash zone. But that would be letting the air liners off easily. The FAA were, remarkably, on to something.

Some of the rebels in question did wonder what, exactly they had shot down. Initial exultation that a Ukrainian transport plane had been downed was followed by bafflement – there was no evidence of military uniforms or insignia, only civilian clothing clinging to remains. “The bird,” claimed Igor Girkin, defence minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, “went down behind a slagheap, not in a residential district. So no peaceful people were injured.” Then came the genuine horror that a civilian craft had been shot down in a moment of misguided enthusiasm. Inevitably, the suggestion of spies was thrown in – what would a Malaysian aircraft be doing in the skies of eastern Ukraine? The combatants could only think in such terms: a foreign aircraft suggested the workings of espionage.

It remains to be confirmed whether the link between the fateful weapon – possibly the Buk weapons system – and the culprit, is established. It certainly does look better for Kiev that the separatists leave their stain on the remains of M17 – after all, the term terrorism and terrorist match the profile of the public relations profile being sought in Western circles. This brings with it the legal trappings – blowing a passenger airliner out of the sky with a sophisticated weapons system would then throw the onus back on possible Russian links of supply, even if it was very possible that the stem might have been obtained in Ukraine to begin with. Both Ukraine and Russia have access to such weapons, but one would not have known it listening to the address by Prime Minister Tony Abbott in the Australian parliament.

Below: OrientaL Review is an independent Moscow-based Internet journal focusing on current political issues in Eurasia and beyond. The initiative was launched in February 2010 by a group of freelance bloggers and political analysts concerned with the aggravating security situation in the world.

Who shot down the Malaysian jet over Ukraine?
Oriental Review Russia July 18, 2014

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On July 17, 2014 the madness of three-month-long Ukrainian military conflict in the East has brought the first shocking international consequence. At 3.20PM GMT the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777-200 jet flight #MH17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala-Lumpur disappeared inside the Ukrainian airspace right above the area of intense military combat in Donetsk region and crushed near Grabovo village, around 60 km to the east from Donetsk. All 283 passengers and 15 crew members have reportedly died.

According to data available the airliner “was moving at the altitude of 10,600 meters on the 350th flight level”. This flight level was opened for international transit flights, despite since July 8, 2014 the Ukrainian aviation authorities “did not recommend” international transit flights in the area below 302th level i.e. 9600 meters due to the “anti-terrorist operation” unleashed in the area involving Ukrainian pursuit aviation and air-defense capabilities in action. So formally the Malaysian company complied with the ruling of Ukrainian civil aviation authority although the security risk for the flight was evident.

The area of the catastrophe is indeed the epicentre of the ongoing fierce fighting between regular Ukrainian army units and rebellious armed militias of Novorossia opposing anti-constitutional February coup d’etat in Kiev. An informed source monitoring operational situation in the area has revealed earlier on Wednesday that a battery of Buk antiaircraft missile systems of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was deployed near Donetsk. At present, another battery of the same missile systems is being loaded in Kharkiv. The aircraft flying at the altitude of more than 10 thousand meters might be hit only with weapons like S-200 or Buk. The militias don’t have such weapons, and cannot afford them as it was acknowledged even by the Ukrainian Defense minister Valery Galetey in a statement on another issue two days before the flight MH17 tragedy: …

The Russian military expert Igor Korotchenko argues that the catastrophe in Donetsk was most likely caused by the incompetence and non-professionalism of the Ukrainian operators of the Buk systems during its testing after the battery was deployed in the new location. …

What happened today is hardly the first case of “errant shooting” of the Ukrainian military on civilian air targets. On October 4, 2001 the Russian Siberia Airline flight #1812 Tel-Aviv-Novosibirsk carrying 66 passengers and 12 crew members was erroneously hit by a Ukrainian missile over the Black Sea during military exercises, which was eventually admitted by the Ukrainian side. No one on board survived.
So regardless the flight MH17 incident was caused by the criminal negligence and incompetence of the Ukrainian military or deliberate (and reckless) Kiev’s provocation to put blame on Russia, the strong international commitment to make Kiev immediately halt its punitive actions in Novorossia until all the circumstances of the tragedy are thoroughly investigated is urgently needed.

According to the reports [from flightaware.com, a live flight tracking website], the deviation of the flight MH17 leading to the passage over the combat area was carried out on the request of the Ukrainian Dnipropetrovsk Air Space Control Centre. The key question is whether it was a tragic coincidence or deliberate provocative act.

Malaysia MH17 crash: 10 questions Russia wants Ukraine to answer
RT Russia July 18, 2014

Some Western states and Kiev rushed to find Russian involvement in the MH17 crash having no evidence to back their claims, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister told RT. He invited Ukraine to answer 10 questions to prove their commitment to an impartial probe.

Speaking to RT, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov has criticized Western countries for jumping to conclusions just “24 hours after the crash” while there is no evidence.

“They try to show to the whole world that we are responsible for the crash. It is very strange that without any evidence my colleagues from western media would like to find somebody who is responsible for the crash,” Antonov said. “It seems to me that this is part of information warfare which has been started against the Russian Federation and armed forces.”

nstead of using the incident as the pretext for groundlessly blaming one of the sides, the catastrophe over Ukrainian sky should be used as a possibility to restart cooperation to “prevent such tragedies in the future.”

“As for me, I don’t want to use this opportunity to blame anybody. I would just like to raise few questions for my colleagues from the armed forces of Ukraine,” Antonov said. “I hope they try to answer the questions, it will be a good opportunity for us to realize where we are, whether there is a possibility for us to restart cooperation and to find who is really responsible for the tragedy.”

“Answers for these questions could help us find an opportunity to prevent such tragedies in the future,” the Deputy Defense Minister said.

Saturday commentary: Here’s the spin war verdict on the latest Malaysia Airlines tragedy. It’s “terrorism” perpetrated by “pro-Russian separatists” in Ukraine, and Russian President Vladimir Putin is the main culprit. End of story. Anyone who believes otherwise, shut up. Why? Because the CIA said so. Unlike the United States, Russia will take its time to know the basic facts of what, where, and who, and engage on proving the truth to Washington’s spin. Brazilian investigative reporter Pepe Escobar reviews what has been said so far and explores the question, “Who profits?”

It was Putin’s missile!
Pepe Escobar Asia Times Online Hong Kong July 19, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded and appended links.

The key question remains, of course, cui bono? Only the terminally brain dead believe shooting a passenger jet benefits the federalists in Eastern Ukraine, not to mention the Kremlin.

As for Kiev, they’d have the means, the motive and the window of opportunity to pull it off – especially after Kiev’s militias have been effectively routed, and were in retreat, in the Donbass; and this after Kiev remained dead set on attacking and bombing the population of Eastern Ukraine even from above. No wonder the federalists had to defend themselves.

And then there’s the suspicious timing. The MH17 tragedy happened two days after the BRICS announced an antidote to the IMF and the World Bank, bypassing the US dollar. And just as Israel “cautiously” advances its new invasion/slow motion ethnic cleansing of Gaza. Malaysia, by the way, is the seat of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission, which has found Israel guilty of crimes against humanity.

Washington, of course, does profit. What the Empire of Chaos gets in this case is a ceasefire (so the disorganized, battered Kiev militias may be resupplied); the branding of Eastern Ukrainians as de facto “terrorists” (as Kiev, Dick Cheney-style, always wanted); and unlimited mud thrown over Russia and Putin in particular until Kingdom Come. Not bad for a few minutes’ work. As for NATO, that’s Christmas in July.

From now on, it all depends on Russian intelligence. They have been surveying/tracking everything that happens in Ukraine 24/7. In the next 72 hours, after poring over a lot of tracking data, using telemetry, radar and satellite tracking, they will know which type of missile was launched, where from, and even produce communications from the battery that launched it. And they will have access to forensic evidence.

Unlike Washington – who already knows everything, with no evidence whatsoever (remember 9/11?) – Moscow will take its time to know the basic journalistic facts of what, where, and who, and engage on proving the truth and/or disproving Washington’s spin.

The historical record shows Washington simply won’t release data if it points to a missile coming from its Kiev vassals. The data may even point to a bomb planted on MH17, or mechanical failure – although that’s unlikely. If this was a terrible mistake by the Novorossiya rebels, Moscow will have to reluctantly admit it. If Kiev did it, the revelation will be instantaneous. Anyway we already know the hysterical Western response, no matter what; Russia is to blame.

Posted at: July 18, 2014 - 3:36 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

July 17, 2014

Ukraine: Out of control oligarchs & Shot down over Ukraine passenger plane: If neither Donetsk People’s Republic forces nor the Ukrainian military brought down the aircraft, who did?

Below: Renee Parsons was a staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives and a lobbyist on nuclear energy issues with Friends of the Earth. in 2005, she was elected to the Durango City Council and served as Councilor and Mayor. Currently, she is a member of the Treasure Coast ACLU Board.

Ukraine war spreads across Russian border
Renee Parsons CounterPunch USA July 17, 2014

While public attention has been distracted by the ISIS uprising in Iraq with the return of American ”troops on the ground,” the horrific devastation occurring in Ukraine continues with no real recognition by the US media of the role of self-motivated oligarch-funded militias in the use of heavy artillery, white phosphorous and cluster bombs against a civilian population.

Given Russian President Vladimir Putin’s impressive patience and test of his maturity during the weeks of US-instigated provocations by the Kiev government, its increased violent escalation of deadly military assaults on ethnic Russian civilians in east Ukraine, all aimed at luring the Russian army to “invade’ Ukraine, it was only a matter of time before the Kiev government and its allies with its reliance on US backing, created a sweet spot of escalation which even the strategically-minded Putin would find difficult to ignore.

The goal, of course, has been to entice Putin into an aggressive military response so that the US could wrap itself in the righteous flag as defenders of the peace and small children; then allege that Russia had committed assorted international, criminal and human rights violations. But early on Putin recognized the game for what it was.

While not the first cross border incident but perhaps the most flagrant violation of Russia’s sovereign border, a Ukrainian Air force plane crossed into Russian air space on Sunday along with an attack of up to six mortar shells in Doentsk (same name as the Ukraine city) in Russia’s Rostov province which killed its first civilian:

“I heard a scream, it was my younger brother, I grabbed him and ran towards the exit. Then I heard my father’s scream,” the girl said. “When my brother and I ran up to the door, glass from the windows shattered again. We stopped. When we went out to the porch, we saw my father lying there. He was without an arm. I was in shock, I thought it was a dream, I came back into the house, then went out again to see him lying there without an arm. He was screaming. My brother was screaming. We were bombed.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry in citing that Russia reserves the right to protect its citizens and territory promised that this “action will not be left without a corresponding reaction” called the shelling an “obviously aggressive act” and warned of ‘irreversible consequences’ and of a potential ‘dangerous escalation ..that puts our citizens in higher danger.”

However, for Putin to initiate even a measured retaliatory response, regardless of its merit, is to invite a direct, perhaps a ‘shock and awe’ assault from the United States on the civilian Russian population which is exactly what Obama has been hoping for.

After several weeks of persistent checkpoint attacks aimed, in part, at hindering what has now become a large-scale exodus of refugees from Ukraine, on July 12th a vehicle of Russian border guards came under fire from the Ukrainian side at Kuibyshev border crossing while the Novoshakhtinsk and Dolzhansky checkpoints, all in Rostov province in Russia, were shelled by mortars on June 20th. The Gukuvo checkpoint was under fire on June 28th and the villages of Vasetsky Khutor and Shakhta experienced shell explosions as assorted incidents of sniper fire were reported on civilian vehicles at the Izvarivo border checkpoint.

As the rebels were driven out of their base in Slyvansk, the Ukraine army predicts a ‘nasty surprise,” a plan, its security force says will crush the heavily urbanized city of Donetsk (Ukraine) rebels, a city of one million with a suburban population of two million. Cited by Forbes in 2012 as Ukraine’s best city for business, Donetsk is of major economic importance to the country. Home to a heavy industry base of steel plants, coal mines, a metallurgy, chemical and engineering industry and a skilled workforce explains why the financially struggling Kiev government is in a desperate brutal fight to control Donetsk and its economy.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has suggested that “Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko would like to ease tension and go on with the truce, there are other forces” including the “battalions of Igor Kolomoysky who do not obey Ukraine’s Central Command and the Commander-in-Chief.”

Lavrov’s mention of Kolomoysky, a Ukrainian oligarch with Israeli citizenship who is worth an estimated $6.3 billion according to Forbes, reveals the existence of a bank tycoon who continues to play an extraordinary role in turning the tide of war on behalf of the Kiev government. Of Jewish descent, Kolomoysky, who lives in Switzerland returned to Ukraine to accept appointment as Governor of the Dnipropetrovsk in March, 2014 in no small part to protect his investments and to benefit from bank ‘reform’ under the recently signed European Trade Association Agreement (ETAA). In Dnipropetrovsk, an area of heavy industry second only to the Donetsk province, Kolomoysky is known for his aggressive take-over of businesses using armed guards when necessary. The ETAA is essentially the same document that exiled President Yankovych refused to sign in February in opposition to acquiescing political control of Ukraine to the EU in return for complying with strict trade and austerity requirements.

Since April, Kolomoysky has reportedly spent more than $10 million to create the 2,000 battle-ready Dnipro Battalion (with 20,000 reserve troops) which is not limited to military engagement within the Dnipropetrovsk province. Considered a terrorist group by the Putin government for its role in the deadly arson attack in Odessa and the massacre of Mariupol civilians, Dnipro has also been cited as responsible for the shelling of Slovyansk, Kramatorsk and Donetsk which has driven 50,000 from their homes. Dnipro was also implicated in storming the Krasnoarmeick city hall in May to stop the balloting.

Ukraine authorities reportedly support other oligarch-funded militias like the Donbass and Azov Battalions, none of which are limited to their local regions, and a very interesting clandestine group referred to as the black men, all considered more reliable than the Ukrainian military.

Related: Gruesome images of Malaysia MH17 plane crash in east Ukraine appear online
RT Russia July 17, 2014

Photo: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was traveling from Amsterdam to Malaysia when it went missing near Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on Thursday. There were 285 people and 15 crew members aboard the Boeing-777.

The passenger plane was expected to enter Russian airspace at 5:20pm local time – but the plane had failed to do so.

“The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace,” the airline tweeted shortly after early news of the plane’s disappearance began to emerge.

The Boeing 777 was carrying 285 passengers and 15 crew members on board.

All 295 people aboard were killed in the disaster, Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported a Ukrainian Interior Ministry official as saying.

Donetsk People’s Republic PM Aleksandr Boroday has termed the incident a provocation by the Ukrainian military, noting that forces in the east have no air defense that could target an aircraft at the height of 10,000 meters, while Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko noted: “We stress that the armed forces of Ukraine did not carry out any action to destroy targets in the air.”

Biden: Malaysia Airlines plane apparently “blown out of the sky”
Rebecca Kaplan CBS News USA July 17, 2014 (15:20 PDT)

Vice President Biden said that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 “apparently had been shot down” and “blown out of the sky” over eastern Ukraine Thursdayduring a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

“We don’t have all the detail yet,” Biden said during a speech to Netroots Nation, a gathering of progressive activists in Detroit. But he said it appeared the plane was “shot down, not an accident, blown out of the sky.”

As Biden was speaking, CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin reports that U.S. military intelligence strongly believes that the plane was brought down by a surface-to-air missile as it flew at 33,000 feet over the war zone in eastern Ukraine.

“This is truly a grave situation. Nearly 300 souls have been lost. The families need consolation and our prayers and there are many question that need to be answered and we’ll get those answers and we will take the next steps accordingly,” he said. “It’s important to get the bottom of this sooner or later because of the possible repercussions that could flow from this beyond the tragic loss of life.”

The vice president also said he spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and offered U.S. assistance from the National Transportation and Safety Board as well as other experts in the community.

The Ukrainian president accepted the assistance, Biden said, and the U.S. experts “will be on their way rapidly to see if we can get to the bottom of this.”

Posted at: July 17, 2014 - 4:16 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post