Saturday, 22 August 2009

not a blog IX

Up, Down.

Václav Klaus, Blue Planet EndangeredVáclav Klaus, Blue Planet EndangeredVáclav Klaus (see 8 & 9 below) is between a rock and a hard place, Scylla and Charybdis, and in more than one sense too, both the climate deniers AND the left-lib thought police group him with bright lights like our own k-k-Canadian grand pooh-bah of the nitwits, Timothy Ball, that Klaus is against the Lisbon Treaty is additional evidence of his heretical apostasy, an unrepentant reprobate to be excommunicated with despatch!

all good except that he has a point, and a good one, Green bureaucrats would (will?) be no better than any others, ready to stuff what's good for you up your ass with glee, NDP bull dykes with strapons comin' at you from behind (& bring your own KY :-)

Daysi/Daisy Zapata, August Interview.

"Other vessels passed by and did not help as a boat sank carrying illegal immigrants." (below)

Obiora Udechukwu“With so much money to be made, there are no laws that will keep forest standing.” John Carter (below).

Schott's Vocab, Roman Numerals.
Hyacinth Bucket Syndrome, Hyacinth Bucket, Katherine Patricia Routledge.
Elegy, Ben Kingsley, Penélope Cruz.

The Universe of Moyo Okediji:
Moyo OkedijiMoyo OkedijiMoyo OkedijiMoyo OkedijiMoyo OkedijiMoyo OkedijiMoyo Okediji

dysphemism: The substitution of an unpleasant or derogatory word or expression for a pleasant or inoffensive one; also, a word or expression so used; opp. EUPHEMISM. Hence dysphe{sm}mistic a., of the nature of or containing such an expression.
‘Robber’ may also be one of those political dysphemisms used to discredit a nationalist rebel.
euphemism: That figure of speech which consists in the substitution of a word or expression of comparatively favourable implication or less unpleasant associations, instead of the harsher or more offensive one that would more precisely designate what is intended.
The Skunk yields a handsome fur, lately become fashionable, under the euphemism of ‘Alaska Sable’.
circumlocution: Speaking in a roundabout or indirect way; the use of several words instead of one, or many instead of few.
Circumlocution Office: a satirical name applied, by Dickens, to Government Offices, on account of the circuitous formality by which they delay the giving of information, etc.
equivocation: The using of a word in more than one sense; ambiguity or uncertainty of meaning in words; also , misapprehension arising from the ambiguity of terms. The fallacy which is committed when a term has different senses in the different members of a syllogism. The use of words or expressions that are susceptible of a double signification, with a view to mislead; esp. the expression of a virtual falsehood in the form of a proposition which (in order to satisfy the speaker's conscience) is verbally true.

fundament: The lower part of the body, on which one sits; the buttocks; also, the orifice of the intestines, the anus. In birds, the vent.

Nok, Nigeria, JosNok, Nigeria, JosNok, Nigeria, JosNok, Nigeria, JosDaniel OffiongDaniel Offiong

William CalleyWilliam CalleyWilliam CalleyWilliam CalleyWilliam CalleyWilliam CalleyWilliam CalleyEric Humphries,
Hugh Thompson, Lawrence ColburnHugh Thompson, Lawrence ColburnHugh Thompson, Lawrence ColburnHugh Thompson, Lawrence ColburnHugh ThompsonHugh ThompsonHugh Thompson, Lawrence ColburnHugh ThompsonHugh Thompson, Lawrence ColburnHugh ThompsonHugh ThompsonHugh ThompsonLawrence Colburn

1. UN shock at migrant boat deaths, BBC, Friday 21 August 2009.
2. University of Portland Commencement Address 2009, Paul Hawken.
3. By Degrees - In Brazil, Paying Farmers to Let the Trees Stand, Elizabeth Rosenthal, August 21 2009.
     3a. Balancing Brazil's Forests, NYT Video (with annoying prefix advert).
4. German Archaeologists Labor to Solve Mystery of the Nok, Matthias Schulz, 08/21/2009.
5. An ordeal that deserves our attention, Rex Murphy, Saturday Aug 22 2009.
     5a. The Honourable (?) Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pontiac (Quebec).
     5b. High Commission of Canada to Kenya.
6. Liliane Khadour, Diplomat involved in passport fiasco back in Canada, CTV, Wed Aug 19 2009.
7. Garbage in, energy out, Shawn McCarthy, Friday Aug 21 2009.
8. Presidente tcheco escreve 2º livro para rebater "mito da mudança climática", 22/08/2009.
9. Czech president Klaus has new book on climate change, 21/08/2009.
     9a. Václav Klaus, Wikipedia.
     9b. Václav Klaus - Blue Planet in Green Shackles, Amazon.
10. William Calley, Vietnam massacre soldier 'sorry', BBC, Saturday 22 August 2009.
11. My Lai massacre: Lt William Calley apologises more than 40 years after Vietnam, 22 Aug 2009.
     11a. Hugh Thompson & Lawrence Colburn, CBS News Video.
12. Ex-ouvidor diz que oficial fez disparo que matou sem-terra, Terra, 23 de agosto de 2009.
13. Green spending trumps economy, poll finds, Julian Beltrame, Sunday Aug 23 2009.

UN shock at migrant boat deaths, BBC, Friday 21 August 2009.

The UN Refugee Agency has expressed shock at reports that other vessels passed by and did not help as a boat sank carrying illegal immigrants.

About 75 illegal immigrants from Africa died while travelling on a crowded rubber dinghy between Libya and Italy. It is thought many succumbed to hunger or thirst. Five Eritreans survived the journey and said no-one offered help. The UN said the failure of other ships to stop and help represented a betrayal of maritime tradition.

Earlier this year, Italy and Libya began joint naval patrols in the Mediterranean to try to prevent the passage of illegal migrants.

Italian coastguards picked up the five survivors from the 12ft vessel, found drifting in Italian waters between Malta and the tiny island of Lampedusa. The five - a woman, a child and three men - told rescuers that they had set out from the Libyan coast three weeks ago but had run out of food, water and fuel. They said many people had died after drinking sea water and their bodies had been thrown overboard.

'Shocking tragedy'

A spokesman for the UN Refugee Agency - the UNHCR - said the survivors had told them that a fishing boat which came across their stranded vessel offered them some bread and water, but then left them.

Other vessels simply passed by, the survivors reported.

"Apart from the shocking tragedy this represents it gives the UNHCR cause for concern that these people report being passed by many vessels without any assistance being offered. This is contrary to the long-standing maritime tradition of rescue at sea which has been under threat and is increasingly being eroded. UNHCR would be very concerned if the hardening of government policies towards boat people has the effect of discouraging ship masters from continuing to honour their international maritime obligations."

Many African migrants from across the continent gather in Libya to make the crossing to Europe, with hundreds of arriving every month on the island of Lampedusa.

From there they are taken by officials to detention centres on the Italian mainland, for identification and eventual expulsion. Italy has recently introduced new legislation making it a crime to enter the country illegally, punishable by imprisonment and fines. However, this doesn't appear to have created any great deterrent. Hundreds of thousands still wait on the shores of north Africa for the chance to cross over to Europe, despite the serious risk to their lives.

University of Portland Commencement Address 2009, Paul Hawken.

When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was “direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful.” No pressure there.

Let’s begin with the startling part. Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation... but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, civilization needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food—but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring. The earth couldn’t afford to send recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.” There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen. Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way.

There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true. Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. “One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice,” is Mary Oliver’s description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.

Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown — Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood — and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit. And today tens of millions of people do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, non-governmental organizations, and companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history.

The living world is not “out there” somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. We are the only species on the planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time rather than renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.

The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. And dreams come true. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe, which is exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a “little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven.”

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. You can feel it. It is called life. This is who you are. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. Our innate nature is to create the conditions that are conducive to life. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hope only makes sense when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.

By Degrees - In Brazil, Paying Farmers to Let the Trees Stand, Elizabeth Rosenthal, August 21 2009.

QUERENCIA, Brazil — José Marcolini, a farmer here, has a permit from the Brazilian government to raze 12,500 acres of rain forest this year to create highly profitable new soy fields.

But he says he is struggling with his conscience. A Brazilian environmental group is offering him a yearly cash payment to leave his forest standing to help combat climate change.

Mr. Marcolini says he cares about the environment. But he also has a family to feed, and he is dubious that the group’s initial offer in the negotiation — $12 per acre, per year — is enough for him to accept.

“For me to resist the pressure, surrounded by soybeans, I’ll have to be paid — a lot,” said Mr. Marcolini, 53, noting that cleared farmland here in the state of Mato Grosso sells for up to $1,300 an acre.

Mato Grosso means thick forests, and the name was once apt. But today, this Brazilian state is a global epicenter of deforestation. Driven by profits derived from fertile soil, the region’s dense forests have been aggressively cleared over the past decade, and Mato Grasso is now Brazil’s leading producer of soy, corn and cattle, exported across the globe by multinational companies.

Deforestation, a critical contributor to climate change, effectively accounts for 20 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions and 70 percent of the emissions in Brazil. Halting new deforestation, experts say, is as powerful a way to combat warming as closing the world’s coal plants.

But until now, there has been no financial reward for keeping forest standing. Which is why a growing number of scientists, politicians and environmentalists argue that cash payments — like that offered to Mr. Marcolini — are the only way to end tropical forest destruction and provide a game-changing strategy in efforts to limit global warming.

Unlike high-tech solutions like capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide or making “green” fuel from algae, preserving a forest yields a strikingly simple environmental payback: a landowner reduces his property’s emissions to zero.

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, said that deforestation “absolutely” needed to be addressed by a new international climate agreement being negotiated this year. “But people cut down trees because there is an economic rationale for doing it, and you need to provide them with a financial alternative,” he said.

Both the most recent draft of the agreement and the climate bill passed by the House in late June in the United States include plans for rich countries and companies to pay the poor to preserve their forests.

The payment strategies may include direct payments to landowners to keep forests standing, as well as indirect subsidies, like higher prices for beef and soy that are produced without resorting to clear-cutting. Deforestation creates carbon emissions through fires and machinery that are used to fell trees, and it also destroys the plant life that helps absorb carbon dioxide emissions from cars and factories around the globe.

But getting the cash incentives right is a complex and uncharted business. In much of the developing world, including here, deforestation has been tied to economic progress. Pedro Alves Guimarães, 73, a weathered man sitting at the edge of the region’s River of the Dead, came to Mato Grosso in 1964 in search of free land, pushing into the jungle until he found a site and built a hut as a base for raising cattle. While he regrets the loss of the forest, he has welcomed amenities like the school built a few years ago that his grandchildren attend, or the electricity put in last year that allowed him to buy his first freezer.

Also, environmental groups caution that, designed poorly, programs to pay for forest preservation could merely serve as a cash cow for the very people who are destroying them. For example, one proposed version of the new United Nations plan would allow plantations of trees, like palms grown for palm oil, to count as forest, even though tree plantations do not have nearly the carbon absorption potential of genuine forest and are far less diverse in plant and animal life.

“There is the capacity to get a very perverse outcome,” said Sean Cadman, a spokesman for the Wilderness Society of Australia.

Global as well as local economic forces are driving deforestation — Brazil and Indonesia lead the world in the extent of their rain forests lost each year. The forests are felled to help feed the world’s growing population and meet its growing appetite for meat. Much of Brazil’s soy is bought by American-based companies like Cargill or Archer Daniels Midland and used to feed cows as far away as Europe and China. In Indonesia, rain forests are felled to plant palms for the palm oil, which is a component of biofuels.

Brazil has tried to balance development and conservation.

Last year, with a grant from Norway that could bring the country $1 billion, it created an Amazon Fund to help communities maintain their forest. National laws stipulate that 80 percent of every tract in the upper Amazon — and 50 percent in more developed regions — must remain forested, but it is a vast territory with little law enforcement. Soy exporters officially have a moratorium on using product from newly deforested land.

Here in Mato Grasso, 700 square miles of rain forest was stripped in the last five months of 2007 alone, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, which tracks vanishing forests.

“With so much money to be made, there are no laws that will keep forest standing,” John Carter, a rancher who settled here 15 years ago, said as he flew his Cessna over the denuded land one day this summer.

Until very recently, developing the Amazon was the priority, and some settlers feel betrayed by the new stigma surrounding deforestation. Much as in the 19th-century American West, the Brazilian government encouraged settlement through homesteaders’ benefits like cheap land and housing subsidies, many of which still exist today.

“It was revolting and sad when the world said that deforestation was bad — we were told to come here and that we had to tear it down,” said Mato Grosso’s secretary of agriculture, Neldo Egon Weirich, 56, who moved here in 1978 and noted that to be eligible for loans to buy tractors and seed, a farmer had to clear 80 percent of his land.

He is proud to have turned Mato Grosso from a malarial zone into an agricultural powerhouse. “Mato Grosso is under a microscope — we know we have to do something,” Mr. Weirich said. “But we can’t just stop production.”

Even today, settlers around the globe are buying or claiming cheap “useless” forest and transforming it into farmland.

Clearing away the trees is often the best way to declare and ensure ownership. Land that Mr. Carter has intentionally left forested for its environmental benefit has been intermittently overtaken by squatters — a common problem here. In parts of Southeast Asia, early experiments in paying landowners for preserving forest have been hampered because it is often unclear who owns, or controls, property.

There are various ideas about how to rein in deforestation.

Mr. Carter has started a landowners’ environmental group, called Aliança da Terra, whose members agree to have their properties surveyed for good environmental practices and their forests tracked by satellite by scientists at the Amazon Institute for Environmental Research (IPAM), ensuring that they are not cultivating newly cleared land. Mr. Carter is currently negotiating with companies like McDonalds to purchase only from farms that have been certified.

The United Nations program, called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation or REDD, will reward countries that preserve forests with carbon credits that can be sold and turned into cash for forest owners through the global carbon market. The United Nations already gives such credits for cleaning factories and planting trees. Carbon credits are bought by companies or countries that have exceeded their emissions limits, as a way to balance their emissions budget.

Daniel Nepstad, a scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center, has mapped out large areas of the Amazon “pixel by pixel” to determine the land value if it was converted to raise cattle or grow soy, to help determine how much landowners should be paid to conserve forest. Most experts feel that landowners will accept lower prices as they realize the benefits of saving forest, like conserving water and burnishing their image with buyers.

Mr. Weirich, the agriculture secretary, said he was skeptical about that. But he, too, senses that there may for the first time be money in forest preservation and has recently decided to be certified by Aliança da Terra.

“We want to adopt practices that will put us ahead in the market,” he said.

The initial offer Mr. Marcolini has from the environmental group is perhaps not enough to save the forest here. But, he said, if his land was in a more remote part of the Amazon, with less farming potential, “I’d take that offer and run with it.”

German Archaeologists Labor to Solve Mystery of the Nok, Matthias Schulz, 08/21/2009.

Part 1: German Archaeologists Labor to Solve Mystery of the Nok

Some 2,500 years ago, a mysterious culture emerged in Nigeria. The Nok people left behind bizarre terracotta statues -- and little else. German archaeologists are now looking for more clues to explain this obscure culture.

Half a ton of pottery shards is piled on the tables in Peter Breunig's workroom on the sixth floor of the University of Frankfurt am Main. There are broken pots, other storage vessels, a clay lizard and fragments of clay faces with immense nostrils.

The chipped head of a statue depicts an African man with a moustache, a fixed glare and hair piled high up on his head. He looks gloomy, almost sinister. Just a few days ago, the ceramics traveled 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) by sea from Nigeria, where they were unearthed.

Breunig runs an excavation near the Nigerian highlands of Jos, where the mysterious Nok culture once blossomed. Spanning more than 80,000 square kilometers (31,000 square miles), the tropical region they lived in was larger than Ireland. Its inhabitants lived in wooden huts and ate porridge made from pearl millet. Some women subjected themselves to bloody "scar ornaments" scratched into their breasts with knives. And, as archaeologists imagine it, smoke hung in the air as people fired masterly terracotta creations in kilns heated to 700 degrees Celsius (1,300 degrees Fahrenheit).

The most astonishing fact about what Breunig calls "a society without writing" is its age. It dates from around 2,500 years ago, a time when a wave of change in belief systems washed over other continents. Nok sculptors were contemporaries of Solon, Buddha and the early Mayans.

For years, people have believed that Africa was left behind at that time -- but Breunig knows better. "Around 500 B.C., the population exploded," he says. People that had been living a Stone Age-like nomadic existence suddenly settled. Breunig speaks of a "cultural Big Bang."

This region near the equator is still largely unexplored, and the German Research Foundation has allocated sizable funding toward that task. If the researchers from Frankfurt deliver promising results, they will continue to receive state funding until 2020.

With the help of some locals, German researchers set up their base last spring, which consists of nine mud huts in the village of Janjala. A flag with the image of Goethe, the symbol of Breunig's university, flutters on a mast. The Germans have drilled wells, and solar panels provide electricity.

Conditions there are hard. Murky water sloshes from the pump, and the solitary lightbulb in the main bricked-lined hut is the only one within 100 kilometers (62 miles). At night, owing to the heat, the researchers have gotten used to sleeping under the night sky, as wild dogs howl in the distance.

Shards, Shards Everywhere

Bathed in the light of the morning sun, the team sets forth. With shovels, pickaxes, laptops and GPS navigation devices in tow, the excavators trudge past an enchanting tree savannah and granite hilltops rising like small islands.

In their excavations, the team encounters hardly any other traces of life. There are no skeletons preserved in the earth since the acidic soil dissolved all bones. Like their cemeteries, the temples and huts of the Nok have disappeared without a trace. No one knows what their farm animals, streets or religious ceremonies were like.

But the shards of clay statues are everywhere -- on rock slopes, in ancient refuse pits and in open spaces. Burrowing animals occasionally dislodge them from their original resting places.

The largest of these impressive figures can stand up to one meter (3.3 feet) tall and resemble what might be kings or members of a social elite. Others wear horned helmets or carved-out gourds on their heads. A third of these figures are women.

The clay figures are strangely uniform, almost as if they had been mass produced. The eyes are always triangular, the pupils are pierced, and the eyebrows are high and arched. They look sedate and immersed in their thoughts. Lightning-shaped tattoos adorn their cheeks.

Scientists are puzzled about who could have created this collection of curiosities. How, they ask, could such a fanciful world emerge 10 degrees latitude south of the equator and far away from the rest of the world's civilizations?

Particularly perplexing is the question of how the Nok people smelted iron. Excavators have found iron bracelets, arrowheads and knives. No sub-Saharan people made anything comparable at the time.

The German researchers, which include geologists and paleoethnobotanists, have now used state-of-the-art analytical devices to examine this area. They use X-ray fluorescence devices, for example, to detect shattered bones, and their infrared cameras should make the remnants of buildings visible. In their initial findings, they have learned that the Nok lived on millet, cowpeas and an olive-like fruit. And Breunig now believes that the statues "were made centrally in some large workshops."

Next winter, the high-tech caravan of researchers will move back into the bush with up to 40 excavation assistants. The project could finally shed some light on a phenomenon that is one of the biggest mysteries of early history.

Part 2: A Startling Discovery

In 1943, the British colonial civil administrator Bernard Fagg was the first to acquire a Nok figure, which had been used as a scarecrow in a yam field. Fagg encouraged the workers in the surrounding tin mines to come forward with any similar finds. Locals from more distant regions soon began bringing Fagg other artifacts, which brought his collection up to 150 pieces. They brought him amulets and clay elephants. They brought him a figure with a gigantic phallus reaching up to its head; another had vampire-like teeth.

For a long time, experts in Europe and the United States were largely unaware of the exciting findings. Only when a pioneer of thermoluminescent imaging presented new data in the 1970s did the archaeological community start to prick up its ears.

These findings led the community to ask a puzzling question: Was it possible that, between 600 B.C. and 300 A.D., when the Chinese started building the Great Wall and the Romans dotted their empire with triumphal arches, African master sculptors in faraway Nigeria were making statues of the highest aesthetic order out of mud coils?

The swiftest reaction to the sensational discovery came from people in the antiquities trade. In the late 1980s, Nok sculptures appeared sporadically in Brussels and Paris. Not only private collectors, but also state-owned museums, discreetly tapped into the fenced merchandise, and prices climbed as high as $50,000 (€35,000) per statue.

Then, in 1996, the sculptures came to the attention of the wider public when the exhibition "Africa: the Art of a Continent" traveled to London and Berlin. Still, at that time, it was mostly photos of the Nok works that went on display. The owners of the original statues -- mostly of whom were rich American collectors -- did not dare lend the exhibition their dubiously acquired African sculptures.

Interpol, the international law-enforcement agency, noted that the objects were being "systematically stolen" and that Africa's heritage was under threat from thieves. UNESCO finally put the sculptures on a list of objects that were illegal to import or export.

Still, these actions did little to temper the treasure-hunting fever in Nigeria. A gem mine near Kubacha, located in the tribal area of the Koro, emerged as an El Dorado for the sculptures.

"Extremely beautiful and barely damaged statues were discovered there in the tombs of the underground shelters," recounts one insider.

Miners there were constantly finding new choice pieces, including a rider on a fanciful horse and a figure holding a cat in a stranglehold.

Details about the mine are hard to come by. It is located in a semi-autonomous district ruled by Koro chief Yohanna Akaito with an iron fist. Akaito has sealed off the area with his private army, and even Nigerian government officials have no access.

One of the few whites who has been granted access to the area is Gert Chesi, and ethnologist and Voodoo researcher.

"The chief entertained me in his mud palace," Chesi says. "In the morning, trumpet calls woke us up, and then we went to the mine."

Chesi had an ulterior motive in coming here. He runs the "House of the People," a museum in Schwaz, Austria, which houses 50 Nok statues, the most splendid collection in the world. Once he was with Akaito, Chesi got right down to business.

Most museums purchased Nok artifacts without certificates and now hide them in their repositories. But Chesi makes no secret of his treasures.

"Each of our sculptures has an export license issued by Omotoso Eluyemi, the manager of the national museum," he says. "Everything was done legally."

It is true that the late Nigerian antiquities official's office could issue customs documents. But it would appear that he did this all too gladly -- while stuffing his pockets in the process.

Poison and Corpses

Now and then, you hear mention of bodies. Eluyemi died on February 18, 2006. According to the official version of events, he choked on a glass of water at dinner and suffocated. But insiders are sure that the 58-year-old was poisoned.

These are the circumstances in which the archeologists are operating.

In describing the situation on the ground, Breunig says that "thieves have rummaged through many thousand square meters of ground; there's one hole next to another."

Still, there is some hope for Africa's heritage. To this day, countless Nok villages lie untouched beneath the earth. In Ungwar Kura, for example, the team recently came across more than 130 millstones, which suggests that there was once a large village there.

The statues found there also contain new details. Some have boils and furuncles on their faces, while others appear to be high dignitaries. Foot rings, loincloths and arm chains ornament their bodies. While their hair is formed into buns and braids, twisted chains adorn necks like thick Christmas wreaths. "The social distinctions are clearly defined," Breunig says.

The researchers are still not sure what these peculiar adornments are supposed to indicate. Since stone pavement is often found near the statues, some have thought that they were situated in holy places or near altars. The archeologists have found remnants of deliberately deposited jewelry chains alongside them, which might lend some degree of support to this hypothesis.

For the time being, though, the purpose of the Nok statues remains unclear. And then there's still the question of whether these objects have anything to do with the Nok people making contact with other people. Some archeologists believe that the cultural renaissance resulted from contact with northern peoples, such as the Carthaginians, who might have arrived by desert. Still others point to the so-called "black pharaohs" of Sudan, who subjugated the whole Nile region between 750 and 670 B.C.

But, for his part, Breunig rejects the idea of such a far-reaching transfer of ideas. "It's 3,000 kilometers from Egypt to Abuja, and there was the obstacle of the Sahara in between," he explains. And, he adds, Africans didn't have camels in pre-Christian times. Instead, Breunig believes that Nok art evolved independently.

Still, the mysteries remain. If Breunig is correct, the Nok were isolated geniuses who created a tropical civilization out of nothing.

"There's no doubt that the Nok will continue to baffle us," Breunig says. "We're unearthing a magnificent part of the history of sub-Saharan Africa."

An ordeal that deserves our attention, Rex Murphy, Saturday Aug 22 2009.

What role did our officials play in the case of Suaad Hagi Mohamud?

The case of Suaad Hagi Mohamud has been in the news a lot, and deserves to have been. Most Canadians are already familiar with the key details of her story. Attempting to leave Kenya on May 21, she was stopped by Kenyan officials claiming that she didn't match her passport photograph. It has also been reported Ms. Mohamud was asked for a bribe to allow her to board the plane she was scheduled to travel on back to Canada and she rebuffed the attempt.

The next day, Canadian officials in Nairobi confiscated her passport in the face of her having offered some lesser – but still strong – evidence of her identity in the form of her driver's licence and other personal documents. They went further and declared her an imposter, and handed her passport over to Kenyan authorities for prosecution. They declared they had carried out “conclusive” investigations to that effect. In the end, she spent eight days in jail, managed to arrange for bail and went through a nightmarish three months, living in slum hotels and trying to prove, mainly I assume to the Canadian authorities, that she was … herself.

Kafka wrote grim, grey novels bristling with the menace of anonymous, shrouded officialdom just so we could have an adjective for this woman's plight. As also most Canadians know, the first and most bitter part of her story has concluded – not happily, that is too much to say – but safely. After nothing less than DNA tests proved she was who in fact she is. The delights of the slum hotels and the threat of being abandoned or stranded are behind her. She is back in Canada and though ill from the experience manifesting, as Christie Blatchford noted earlier this week, a quite resilient cheerfulness.

But both she and her lawyer have indicated a very proper determination to find out what went on here. (She is also, as of yesterday, suing the federal government.) This is not a story that should be allowed to fade merely because the original flare of its “news” is over. What was this “conclusive investigation” on which, apparently, our Canadian authorities acted so confidently? How “conclusive” could it have been, when it was so very wrong?

Just because it has turned out “okay,” so to speak, there is no excuse for not getting an exact account of how this nightmare was set in motion and what the role of Canada's overseas officials had in either contributing to it – or, for the facts are by no means in – alleviating it.

The minister responsible, Lawrence Cannon, perhaps unavoidably given the scope of attention the story has received, has pledged to get to the bottom of it and commissioned a report. This encouraging pledge is a little undermined by his less than vivid, less than urgent, language on the matter.

“We'll wait for the report,” he has said, and “once the report has been tabled, we will look at it and if there are recommendations – which I suspect there will be – we'll see how we put those recommendations in place.” He “suspects” there will be “recommendations” and he'll “see” how to put them in place. The buzzing sound you hear in that flat language is the toneless noise politicians make when they're whistling the great fallback melody of “we hope all this is just going to go away.”

It should not be allowed to. Any investigation into so particular a matter has features that are not present in the typical government inquiry. This is not the vast and cluttered landscape of the sponsorship scandal, or the infinite unfoldings of Karlheinz “Scheherazade” Schreiber. An individual Canadian citizen, caught up either in error or in a petty attempt at bribery extortion at a foreign airport, found herself declared an “imposter” on the basis of a “conclusive investigation” by Canadian consular officials.

The chain of events is limited. The numbers of people involved are small. What happened, and what did not happen – what was not done that might have been done – these are easily determined and may be so in a short time. The Canadian public should be told how Suaad Hagi Mohamud was put in so perilous a circumstance, virtually abandoned for almost three months, placed in considerable jeopardy, her family tormented, when – at least on the surface – it could very easily be established that she was who she claimed to be.

The first duty of the state, the first let us emphasize, is the safety of its citizens. In this case, Ms. Mohamud was in a situation of potentially the deepest risk and the public should learn to what, if any, degree the performance of our government's officials contributed to it. The minister responsible should be as eager as any of us to make public that accounting once a proper inquiry has been carried out.

Liliane Khadour, Diplomat involved in passport fiasco back in Canada, CTV, Wed Aug 19 2009.

The diplomat who rejected a Canadian woman's passport in Kenya, leaving her stranded in the country for three months until a DNA test finally proved her identity, is back in Ottawa, according to a report.

The Toronto Star reported Wednesday that Liliane Khadour -- the Canadian diplomat who told Kenyan authorities that Suuad Hagi Mohamud was not the person she said she was -- has returned after her posting in Kenya ended.

Mohamud, 31, returned to Canada last weekend, after being stranded in Kenya since the late spring. The incident is currently under investigation and Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon refused to "speculate on what occurred."

"We're not looking for anything else than the truth, and I've asked my deputy minister to look into it," he told CTV News on Wednesday.

The Somalian-born Mohamud, who lives in Toronto where she has a son, was stopped in a Nairobi airport on May 21. It was suggested she did not look like the person in her four-year-old passport photo.

After going to the Canadian High Commission to prove her identity with various pieces of identification, officials voided Mohamud's passport and sent her to Kenyan authorities for prosecution.

She spent eight days in jail, and ended up facing court proceedings and paying a bond to stay out of jail. Her travel documents were also seized.

In the end, a DNA test proved Mohamud's identity and Kenyan authorities dropped all charges that had been laid against her. She arrived home in Toronto on Aug. 15.

Khadour's signature is at the bottom of a May 28 letter telling Kenyan authorities that Mohamud was an imposter, and that Canada would hand over her passport for use in prosecution.

"As requested, the Canadian High Commission is releasing the passport to your office for the purposes of prosecution regarding the improper use of the passport by a person other than the rightful holder," Khadour said in the letter, signing her name as the vice-consul, first secretary (consular) in the Canadian High Commission.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Khadour's name did not appear on the list of current employees on the website for the High Commission of Canada to Kenya. On the Department of Foreign Affairs online directory, Khadour is listed as currently working for the department's Mission Client Services section.

David Mwagiru, a public affairs employee at the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi, told that all calls regarding Khadour were being handled by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa.

Spokesperson Emma Welford told the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade "doesn't comment on the personal details of its employees."

But Welford also said that Foreign Affairs would be handling any media inquiries about Khadour. Khadour and her family will not be granting any interviews and are not intending to issue any statements, Welford said. Both Foreign Affairs and The Canadian Border Services Agency are now probing how Mohamud's case was handled.

Garbage in, energy out, Shawn McCarthy, Friday Aug 21 2009.

From SHL Systemhouse to the Ottawa Senators, Rod Bryden has played a key role in developing and financing ideas that have been difficult to pull off. Now he's counting on municipal refuse to solve the world's energy crisis

Ottawa — On a hot summer day, the air hangs heavy inside Plasco Energy Group Inc.'s hangar-like building on the outskirts of Ottawa, with the pervasive stench of garbage more suggestive of a town dump than a leading-edge technology centre.

Municipal garbage trucks – diverted from the city landfill across the road – dump their loads of solid waste on the concrete floor, where a front-end loader moves the garbage into a shredder that also removes metals for recycling.

The shredded waste is then pushed into piles where it can be fed onto a conveyor belt that delivers it to the company's patented plasma-gasification system.

In harnessing that energy, Plasco chemically transforms Ottawa's residential garbage into a synthetic gas that is used to generate electricity – without emitting greenhouse gases. The process also produces some commercial byproducts such as sulphur, water and solid aggregate.

It's a 21st-century form of alchemy: garbage in, energy out. In a time when municipalities are desperate to reduce greenhouse gases and relieve overflowing landfills, gasification has the potential to be a world-changing technology.

But as with many green energy technologies, success depends on another modern dark art: raising capital.

If Plasco doesn't succeed on that front, it won't be for lack of trying. For the man in charge is Ottawa's most battle-scarred serial entrepreneur, Rod Bryden, late of SHL Systemhouse Ltd., Kinburn Technologies, WorldHeart Corp. and the Ottawa Senators.

But Plasco's technology has run into some serious glitches, which have hindered the company's ability to raise money.

Mr. Bryden, 65, is undaunted. “We believe that our manufactured product can be the most commonly used method of handling waste in the world.”

The landscape is littered with technologies that promised breakthrough advances in efficiency or environmental benefit, but failed to clear commercial hurdles. And it's already been a long haul for Plasco.

Five years ago, the company's founders, including current executive vice-president Christopher Gay and chief technology officer Andreas Tsangaris, realized they needed a savvy business partner and turned to Mr. Bryden for help.

The high-profile entrepreneur and civic booster was still recovering from a bruising battle in which he was forced to place the NHL's Ottawa Senators into bankruptcy protection, sell his controlling stake and cut a deal with creditors to avoid personal bankruptcy.

Mr. Gay, who was Plasco's CEO at the time, recalls that former Ottawa mayor Bob Chiarelli and local MPP Richard Patten put him in touch with Mr. Bryden, who has long been one of the city's leading venture capitalists.

In their first meeting, the veteran businessman seemed less than impressed, telling Mr. Gay “things that appear too good to be true usually are.”

Three weeks later, they met again, and this time, Mr. Bryden offered to work for a few months as acting CEO until he could make a proper assessment of Plasco's potential. But first, he had to clear up his own finances from the Senators' mess.

At an age when many Canadians are easing into retirement, the New Brunswick-born lawyer still relishes the challenge of building companies that bring innovative and socially beneficial technologies to market.

In addition to Plasco, he is chairman of a small biotechnology firm, PharmaGap Inc., that is developing new approaches to cancer treatment, and of Clearford Industries Inc., which is working on advanced waste water collection systems.

“It's much more satisfying to provide some leadership in making things happen which you can honestly feel that if you don't do it, it wouldn't get done, at least not right away,” Mr. Bryden says. “I'd rather do that than compete for the opportunity to do something where, if you don't get the job, somebody else will, and the job will get done anyway.

“I like doing things that I'm really proud of doing ... something that you would be quite proud to tell your kids: I did that, I helped make that happen,” he adds.

In that category, he includes his successful battle to keep the Ottawa Senators in the nation's capital, even though he ended up losing control and much of his personal fortune in the process. (The team is now owned by Eugene Melnyk, who made his fortune at drug manufacturer Biovail Corp.)

Mr. Gay said he was not bothered by Mr. Bryden's very public financial setbacks. “We were fortunate to be able to attract someone of his calibre,” he said.

Indeed, managerial weakness is a leading cause of mortality among startup technology companies whose founders – usually engineers, as at Plasco – insist on trying to build the business themselves.

And despite a reputation for sometimes overpromising, Mr. Bryden clearly knows what it takes to build a successful technology company, although his own career has also seen some high-profile failures.

“Plasco required somebody that could roll up their sleeves and work the company through the permitting process, introduce it to investors, get initial capital into the company, and then grow the company to the point where it could raise significant capital,” says Dan Phaure, an investment banker with Toronto-based Jacob Securities Inc., which has participated in Plasco financings.

“There wouldn't be very many people in Canada aside from Rod who would be able to do that.”

Quest for capital

The global waste-to-energy market is booming, though many municipalities are opting for older incinerator technology that raises pollution concerns.

Governments are looking to generate power from renewable sources in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to divert garbage from landfills, where tipping fees are expected to climb dramatically as available land becomes scarce.

Despite recycling efforts, North Americans currently throw out the equivalent of 99 million green garbage bags a day. The energy content from virtually all of that material can be recovered in the form of electricity, steam or even ethanol.

Plasco's quest to capitalize on all this dormant energy initially focused on tapping the federal government's Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) fund, which provides early round, pre-commercial funding for promising technologies that are potentially profitable.

A key moment came when the SDTC staff concluded their review of Plasco's application for funding in 2006 and decided to recommend it to the board. Even before the board approved a $9.5-million grant, investors took their cue from SDTC's due diligence process and agreed to finance the Ottawa demonstration plant, Mr. Bryden says.

The demonstration plant started operations in July, 2007 – and almost immediately ran into problems. The sorting and conveyor system simply couldn't handle the volumes of garbage required for a commercial operation.

In December, 2007, Plasco announced it had a new largest shareholder - First Reserve Corp., a Greenwich, Conn., private equity fund that specializes in energy. First Reserve invested $35-million (U.S.), leading a syndicate that contributed a total of $54-million (U.S.).

On top of that, First Reserve committed an additional $110-million to be invested over the course of 2008, as Plasco met performance targets. But the targets weren't met and that money never came.

Mr. Bryden says the lack of follow-up capital from First Reserve was not as critical as it might have been – the money would have been needed to build a commercial-scale plant, but Plasco couldn't proceed on that front until it ironed the wrinkles out of the demonstration plant.

The lack of capital and sales, however, forced him to lay off 53 workers in May, nearly a third of its employees. Critical work at Trail Road in Ottawa continued.

Mr. Bryden takes responsibility for the delay, saying he was focused on ensuring the plasma technology worked, and paid too little attention to materials handling.

“We underestimated the time it took to deal with the so-called simple stuff – the stuff that isn't rocket science,” he says. “Some of it is rocket science, and that worked. But it was a much more time-consuming process than we expected to integrate that into a real functioning system.”

Now the CEO insists Plasco is ready for prime time.

Since March, the materials feeding system has functioned smoothly, allowing the company to increase its waste handling by 43 per cent in the second quarter. The energy conversion unit has also performed well, and Plasco last week was rated top performer among nine waste-to-energy competitors by the California municipality of Salinas, which is prepared to enter contract discussions with the company.

To proceed with commercial plants, the company is deeply reliant on the health of capital markets, and the re-emerging appetite among international investors to plow money into unproven technologies.

Indeed, Plasco's business plan is predicated on taking the risk off the shoulders of its municipal partners, who will not contribute to the capital costs.

Instead, the company would tap the capital markets for project financing. To persuade investors, Plasco needs agreements with municipalities to obtain feedstock at a set price, and indications it will be able to sell the power to local electricity companies at the premium prices available to renewable-energy developers.

The problems at the Ottawa plant forced the company to delay its planned construction of a $96-million commercial plant in Alberta's Red Deer County, where a consortium of nine municipalities had agreed to provide land and deliver waste for a tipping fee of $60 a tonne.

In the current environment, public money is critical if Plasco is going to meet its ambitious targets, according to Mr. Bryden, who says investors are now demanding government support for capital-intensive, renewable-energy projects.

Plasco has applied under the federal “green infrastructure” program for financing of the Red Deer project and the CEO is hoping for an answer within weeks.

Although the company has tapped international investors for the vast majority of the $120-million it has raised in the past five years, foreign investors will be reluctant to finance 100 per cent of projects in Canada when refundable tax credits or grants covering 25 per cent of such projects' capital costs are available in the United States and Europe, Mr. Bryden says.

“It is unlikely a Canadian project will be built without a capital contribution from government, so long as other countries are routinely providing support for the same types of projects,” he says.

If it can get plants operational, Plasco will benefit from a different type of government support - the higher power rates being offered to renewable-energy producers.

Ontario's new feed-in tariff system, as yet not finalized, promises developers a high price for their power. Plasco also expects to generate revenue by selling carbon offsets, which are tradable credits created by renewable-energy projects that displace coal- or gas-fired power.

‘Holy grail technologies'

Plasco is just one of the many companies racing to mine the gold in garbage. Montreal-based Enerkem Inc. is partnering with the City of Edmonton to build a waste-to-energy plant that will produce ethanol. Calgary-based Alter NRG Corp., which trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange, has two gasification plants operating in Japan, and is negotiating to build one in Ontario.

“It is one of those holy grail technologies,” says Rick Whittaker, vice-president of investments at SDTC. “Gasification is a technology that can take virtually any feedstock in, avoids all those air pollution problems you find with other technologies, and pulls off a very clean gas you can use to generate electricity.”

Gasification is a low-emissions method of extracting energy from a range of feedstocks, from coal, to forestry wastes, to municipal solid waste.

Incineration occurs in the presence of oxygen, which creates carbon dioxide, a key culprit in climate change, but gasification uses high temperatures and airless chambers to break down molecules into hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which are then reformed into a synthetic gas.

Plasco's innovation is the use of a plasma, an ionized, superheated cloud akin to lightning and often referred to as the fourth state of matter. Plasco's plasma torches efficiently break down molecules into basic elements, that are then reformed into synthetic gas that is used to power generators.

Mr. Bryden insists the kinks in his company's technology have been worked out, and Plasco is ready to build in Red Deer, pending a decision on federal funding.

The company is also in the final stages of negotiations with the City of Ottawa for a commercial plant that would divert as much as two-thirds of the city's non-recyclable, residential garbage to a waste-to-energy plant that would generate 24 megawatts of electricity, enough to power a small town.

Ottawa City Manager Ken Kirkpatrick says Plasco's technology promises a clean and efficient method of extracting energy from municipal waste. The city is not interested in incineration, which can also produce electricity but raises concerns about emissions, particularly of dioxins and furans.

Several municipalities in Ontario have energy-from-waste incinerators, and Durham Region has filed for an environmental assessment for a planned 400-tonne-a-day incinerator to be built by New Jersey-based Covanta Energy Corp.

While incineration is controversial, Durham's Commissioner of Works, Cliff Curtis, says all emissions will be well below provincial standards, which he described as the toughest in the world.

Durham spent some time looking at Plasco's technology, but the company simply wasn't ready for a commercial project when the bids went out. “Conceptually, it is quite attractive,” Mr. Curtis says. “But as a municipality, we don't want to gamble with taxpayers' money. We wanted something that works, and we couldn't afford to wait.”

His colleagues in Ottawa believe the wait may be just about over, though they're not convinced yet. Mr. Kirkpatrick, for one, wants to see the demonstration plant function smoothly for another month before taking the proposal to city council.

“It is world-changing technology, if it can be viably commercialized,” he said.

Presidente tcheco escreve 2º livro para rebater "mito da mudança climática", 22/08/2009.

O polêmico presidente conservador da República Tcheca, Václav Klaus, dedicará seu novo livro para defender sua opinião de que a mudança climática é um mito que ameaça a liberdade e o bem-estar das pessoas, informou o jornal "Mlada Fronta Dnes" na quinta-feira (21).

O livro, intitulado "O Planeta Azul em Perigo", retoma o argumento do anterior "Planeta Azul (Não Verde)", no qual defende que, com a mudança climática, os valores liberais são afetados e um novo tipo de ideologia totalitária é introduzido, camuflado pelo "ecologismo".

"A temperatura global está sendo utilizada pelos mais radicais para apoiar uma maior entrada do Estado e da política na sociedade humana", afirma Klaus.

Também critica o que define como 'histeria da mudança climática', com a qual se pretende criar alarmismo e medo, com finalidade política. Klaus diz que o discurso da mudança climática não pretende realmente mudar a temperatura do planeta, mas o comportamento humano. "Falam sobre salvar o planeta. De quem? De quê? Há algo que sei com certeza: devemos salvar o planeta, e nós, deles", escreve Klaus.

O presidente tcheco, também conhecido por suas posições céticas, considera que o aquecimento não é global, nem se deve à ação do ser humano. Klaus foi o único dirigente que criticou o Prêmio Nobel da Paz dado em 2007 ao ex-vice-presidente americano Al Gore, um dos grandes ativistas na luta contra a mudança climática. O presidente confessou que escreveu um segundo livro sobre o assunto para gerar uma polêmica que alimente o debate sobre o aquecimento global.

Czech president Klaus has new book on climate change, 21/08/2009.

Prague - Czech President Vaclav Klaus will present a new book on climate change, in which he criticises both environmentalists and politicians, on August 28, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes today.

The book titled "Blue Planet Endangered" is Klaus's second book on climate change. In 2007, he published "Blue Planet in Green Shackles."

In both books, Klaus warns that the fight against global warming poses a risk of limiting human freedom.

"Global temperature is abused for further radical entry of the state and politics in human society," Klaus writes in his new book.

He has been criticising what he labels climate change hysteria, or provoking panic and abusing fear of climate change for political goals.

In the new book, he says environmental radicals want to change people and their behaviour rather than climate. They "talk about saving the planet. From whom? From what? There is one thing I know for sure: we must save the planet - and us - from them," Klaus writes.

The paper says Klaus wrote the new book because he expects his words to provoke stormy reactions. Other politicians both home and abroad mostly believe that states and governments should immediately do something about global warming which they say has been caused first of all by man. Klaus who is rather isolated in his position has been challenging this view.

According to MfD, the formation of new topics and their inclusion in the debate is one of the main political weapons Klaus has been using for some 20 years. He then has an opportunity to dominate the topic himself and get more public attention, the paper writes.

Apart from global warming, Klaus is known as a staunch opponent of the Lisbon treaty.

Klaus, 68, has been Czech president since 2003. He founded the right-wing Civic Democratic Party (ODS) in 1991 and he was prime minister in 1992-1997.

William Calley, Vietnam massacre soldier 'sorry', BBC, Saturday 22 August 2009.

The US army officer convicted for his part in the notorious My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War has offered his first public apology, a US report says.

"There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened," Lt William Calley was quoted as saying by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

He was addressing a small group at a community club in Columbus, Georgia.

Calley, 66, was convicted on 22 counts of murder for the 1968 massacre of 500 men, women and children in Vietnam.

Cold blood

"I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry," the former US platoon commander said on Wednesday.

The My Lai massacre was a turning point in the Vietnam War

He was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the killings in 1971. Then-US President Richard Nixon commuted his sentence to three years' house arrest.

But Calley insisted that he was only following orders, the paper reported.

He broke his silence after accepting a friend's invitation to speak at the weekly meeting of the Kiwanis Club, a US-based global voluntary organisation.

At the time of the killings, the US soldiers had been on a "search and destroy" mission to root out communist fighters in what was fertile Viet Cong territory. Although the enemy was nowhere to be seen, the US soldiers of Charlie Company rounded up unarmed civilians and gunned them down.

When the story of My Lai was exposed, more than a year later, it tarnished the name of the US army and proved to be a turning point for public opinion about the Vietnam War.

My Lai massacre: Lt William Calley apologises more than 40 years after Vietnam, 22 Aug 2009.

More than 40 years after a massacre that appalled the world, the former US army officer convicted of organising mass killings in My Lai during the Vietnam war has made a public apology.

Former Army Lt. William Calley speaks to a Kiwanis Club in Columbus, Ga. where he spoke publicly for the first time about the infamous My Lai massacre in Vietnam in 1968.

Former lieutenant William Calley said: "There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai.

"I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry."

Mr Calley was addressing members of the Kiwanuis Club in Greater Columbus, Georgia, in remarks delivered on Wednesday but which have only now emerged.

The killings that occurred on March 16, 1968 in the South Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai prompted widespread outrage around the world. They are also credited with advancing the end of the Vietnam War because they significantly undercut US public support for the war effort.

The massacre began when men of Charlie Company, under the command of Calley, opened fire on civilians during a "search and destroy" mission in My Lai and neighboring villages.

The targets of the killings were mainly old men, women and children - all unarmed - as most younger members of the community were working in the fields. The exact toll of the massacre still remain in dispute. But US estimates suggest that between 347 and 504 unarmed citizens were massacred that day.

Although a commission of inquiry recommended charges should be brought against 28 officers and two non-commissioned officers, Calley was the only US soldier convicted over the killings at My Lai. He was sentenced to life in prison, later reduced to house arrest.

A survivor of the killings said he welcomed Calley's public apology for his role the atrocity. "It's a question of the past and we accept his apologies, although they come too late," Pham Thanh Cong, director of a small museum at My Lai, told AFP by telephone. "However, I prefer that he send his apologies to me in writing or by email."

Mr Cong, who saw his mother and brothers killed in the massacre, said: "I want him to come back... and see things here. Maybe he has now repented for his crimes and his mistakes committed more than 40 years ago."

Ex-ouvidor diz que oficial fez disparo que matou sem-terra, Terra, 23 de agosto de 2009.

O ex-ouvidor agrário do governo do Rio Grande do Sul Adão Paiani disse em entrevista divulgada pela Associação Brasileira de Radiodifusão Comunitária (Abraço) que um oficial da Brigada Militar teria feito o disparo que resultou na morte do trabalhador rural sem-terra Elton Brum da Silva, 44 anos. Segundo Paiani, a informação partiu de outro oficial da polícia, que pediu para não ser identificado.

Silva foi morto com um tiro nas costas durante remoção de um acampamento montado em uma fazenda em São Gabriel (RS) na sexta-feira. O comandante-geral da Brigada Militar do Rio Grande do Sul, coronel João Carlos Trindade, afirmou no sábado que foram identificados pelo menos 12 policiais que estavam com arma de calibre 12, o mesmo do disparo que matou o trabalhador rural. Segundo o comandante, desses policiais, quatro fizeram disparos e um levava consigo munição letal, mas todos disseram ter usado apenas munição não letal durante a ação.

"Foi relatado por um outro oficial da brigada: (...) houve uma discussão entre esse alto oficial da brigada, esse oficial estava com uma espingarda calibre 12, que não poderia ser utilizada na operação (...) ele disparou à queima roupa contra o trabalhador rural. Imediatamente, esse mesmo oficial e os soldados que o acompanhavam retiraram o trabalhador dali, colocaram dentro de uma viatura e tentaram levar pro hospital de São Gabriel, mas muito rapidamente, para afastar da vista da imprensa, da promotora de Justiça, que estava ali, mas não estava próxima do local e do subcomandante da brigada, que estava ali", disse Paiani.

Paiani disse ainda que, se as investigações não apontarem a culpa de um oficial, ele divulgará o nome do autor do disparo. "Se essa conta for debitada a um soldado da Brigada, eu, como filho de um soldado da Brigada, vou apontar o nome do autor do homicídio", afirmou.

Green spending trumps economy, poll finds, Julian Beltrame, Sunday Aug 23 2009.

Don't let recession become an excuse for easing up on environmental efforts, majority says

Ottawa — Canadians are telling governments not to let the recession become an excuse for easing up on efforts to protect the environment, a new opinion poll suggests.

The finding in The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey suggests that while voters are worried about the economy, they do not want governments to ease off on measures to protect the environment.

On the key question, 67 per cent said the environment should be just as much as priority for governments as tackling economic problems, with only 26 per cent saying it was a secondary concern.

The result was generally shared among Canadians, regardless of gender, annual salary, political affiliation or where they live. However, men, Conservative supporters and those in the West were most likely to say the economy is the top priority. Even among Tory supporters, 53 per cent felt the environment should not take a back seat to the economy.

Most respondents also felt governments are not doing enough on the environment, with 74 per cent saying governmental focus is not going far enough.

Harris-Decima vice president Jeff Walker said the results are somewhat surprising, since it is generally the case that other issues often go on the back burner in tough economic times. That doesn't appear to be the mood of Canadians now, even though more than 400,000 jobs have vanished since October and economists and politicians warn unemployment will likely increase in the next few months.

“In contrast to prevailing views that environmental efforts recede in a recession, Canadians ... overwhelmingly believe much more can and should be done,” he said.

The survey of 1,000 people, conducted in the last week of July, is considered to be accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20.


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