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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Even Liar McCain Fed Up with Republican Lies about Torture - Bin Laden and Assassinations - Civilian Deaths - Climate Change and Going Vegan - Pet Food and Climate Change

- John McCain to Bush apologists: Stop lying about Bin Laden and torture
    This is getting really good. As noted below, John McCain in an Op ed this morning skewered the claim that the killing of Bin Laden vindicates torture. But just now, on the Senate floor, he uncorked a new broadside that is quite remarkable, taking direct aim at Bush apologists who are reviving this debate in order to claim Bin Laden’s death as part of the Bush legacy.
- Fight Global Warming by Going Vegetarian
    Global warming has been called humankind's "greatest challenge" and the world's most grave environmental threat. Many conscientious people are trying to help reduce global warming by driving more fuel-efficient cars and using energy-saving light bulbs. Although this helps, science shows that going vegan is one of the most effective ways to fight global warming.
- Vegetarian is the New Prius
    Last month, the United Nations published a report on livestock and the environment with a stunning conclusion: "The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." It turns out that raising animals for food is a primary cause of land degradation, air pollution, water shortage, water pollution, loss of biodiversity, and not least of all, global warming.
- Equivalent emissions savings from weekly dietary changes
    If every American had one meat-free meal per week, it would be the same as taking more than 5 million cars off our roads. Having one meat-free day per week would be the same as taking 8 million cars off American roads.
- Livestock impacts on the environment
    A new report from FAO says livestock production is one of the major causes of the world's most pressing environmental problems, including global warming, land degradation, air and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity
- UK animal feed helping to destroy Asian rainforest, study shows
    British cats, dogs, cows, pigs and even goldfish are helping destroy the rainforests of south-east Asia. A new study for the government finds that more than a tenth of all the world's palm kernel meal – a lucrative by-product of the production of palm oil – is fed to British animals.
- Analyzing the ‘900 papers supporting climate scepticism’: 9 out of top 10 authors linked to ExxonMobil
    '900+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism Of "Man-Made" Global Warming (AGW) Alarm' announces the headline on the Global Warming Policy Foundation's website [a group that denies Climate Change and is associated with the oil industry].
    The article references a blog linking to more than 900 papers which, according to the GWPF, refute "concern relating to a negative environmental or socio-economic effect of AGW, usually exaggerated as catastrophic."However, a preliminary data analysis by the Carbon Brief has revealed that nine of the ten most prolific authors cited have links to organisations funded by ExxonMobil, and the tenth has co-authored several papers with Exxon-funded contributors.
- Don't Apologize, Greenwald. Don't Back Down
    In case you hadn't heard, GG's run into some trouble here (elsewhere, too, I assume) for suggesting that if the U.S. assumes the right to assassinate anyone it so chooses, then our enemies could choose to do the same to President Obama.
    Some people here have responded with Have-You-No-Shame horror, and others, while acknowledging that he has a point, argue that he should have chosen his words more carefully.

    But I think he chose his words with utmost care. They were designed to expose in stark terms the shaky moral and legal footing of the U.S's claim that it can basically do whatever the hell it wants in the name of FIGHTINGEVIL.
- After, not during
    Amid some inconsistencies in early Administration and media accounts of Osama bin Laden's death, a reader points out that President Obama himself was always -- if very subtly -- clear that the terrorist was not killed in a shootout. Indeed, two  pieces of language that seem more consistent with Bin Laden's being shot and killed deliberately -- as, in some reports, was the goal of the mission -- than in his being shot "resisting," as if in some kind of police action.

Intelligence Failures 'Led to Deaths of Afghan Civilians'
by Julius Cavendish in Kabul
Published on Thursday, May 12, 2011 by The Independent/UK

Amid growing calls for US Special Operations Forces to take the lead in Afghanistan after the successful strike against Osama bin Laden, a new report has warned that systemic failures in gathering military intelligence are leading to civilian casualties during raids.

File picture shows soldiers parading at Kabul airport. A new report has warned that systemic failures in gathering military intelligence are leading to civilian casualties during raids. 
 (AFP/File/Joel Saget) 

The study focuses on an air strike called in last September by US Special Forces which local villagers, the Afghan government and Western researchers believe killed 10 civilians, including the agent of a parliamentary candidate. But Nato says it hit a Taliban commander in the attack.

"Afghans, including senior government officials, have been incredulous that anyone might have thought Zabet Amanullah [the parliamentary candidate's agent] and the others were anything but civilians, while [Nato] and the US Special Forces unit that conducted the operation [are] adamant they hit the correct target," the report, called The Takhar Attack, says.

The crucial failure, according to author Kate Clark, was the military's inability to cross-reference its signals intelligence with human intelligence – which, in this case, could have been gleaned by nothing more complicated than watching election coverage on national television or talking to locals.

Instead, the Special Forces believed a mobile phone their Taliban target had once called was now in his possession and that he was using the alias "Zabet Amanullah". Ms Clark said: "Yet Zabet Amanullah was not an alias; it was the name of an actual person. When the two men's identities were mixed up, it was Zabet Amanullah who appeared in the crosshairs of the US military."

Having met Mr Amanullah, who was known as the "ant" because he was so short, in 2008, Ms Clark said it was "implausible" a man living openly in Kabul, where he studied English and computing and had a stake in a pharmacy, had a double life as a battlefield commander. At the time intelligence gatherers believed their man was running operations in northern Afghanistan, passport stamps put Mr Amanullah in India, where he was receiving medical treatment.

When the Special Forces unit continued to insist in the face of mounting evidence that it had bombed the right man, Ms Clark tracked down the Taliban commander they claimed to have hit. "He is alive and well and has been interviewed in Pakistan," she wrote.
The case study points to the worrying lack of scepticism Nato brings to investigations of civilian casualties and its frequent detachment from its immediate surroundings. Previous intelligence chiefs have slammed the organisation's intelligence-gathering operations and US General David Petraeus has spoken about the lack of "granular understanding of local circumstances".

In March, The Independent revealed that a US-sponsored warlord is accused of raping, torturing and killing villagers who were not part of his interest group. Despite being notified over a year ago by UN officials of the numerous complaints pouring in about Commander Azizullah, Nato has yet to investigate the claims.

In a separate investigation by this newspaper, the former commander of a secret CIA-backed strike force said his men might have killed civilians based on faulty tips. "If the jungle catches fire, even the green trees burn," Atal Afghanzai, of the Kandahar Strike Force, said. "It may have been that we killed civilians but that was not our fault. It was the source who got it wrong." In 2009, he was convicted of murder.

Ms Clark worries that after the successful raid on Bin Laden, US Special Forces and the CIA will have far more licence to carry out targeted killings.

Wave of violence expected in Afghanistan

Nato and the Afghan government say they are bracing for a wave of al-Qa'ida-inspired attacks, in what analysts and diplomats say is an attempt to deflect criticism for security failings as the annual fighting season begins.

Following a 30-hour gun battle at the weekend in Kandahar, Afghanistan's second city, President Hamid Karzai tried to shift blame away from his government and security forces by blaming al-Qa'ida, even though the Taliban was responsible. "They're trying to be clever to pin this Kandahar thing on al-Qa'ida because otherwise it's really embarrassing," one Western diplomat said.

"It shows the Afghan National Security Forces can't handle it."