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Total number of comments: 26 (since 2013-11-28 15:54:55)

Christiane

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  • UN Official Breaks Down on Camera; another says: "Children Killed in their Sleep - a Source of Universal Shame"
    • Pierre Kraehenbühl who formerly was an ICRC delegate, was interviewed on our national TV channel. He told two other things :
      1) that the school was clearly indicated to the Israelian military as an humanitarian building which shouldn't be targeted and that many times.

      2) concerning the excuse given by the Israelians, that the Hamas was stocking arms inside that school, he mentioned that a few times the UN had discovered some arms in schools and that this was infringing humanitarians regulations (and he blamed the Hamas for doing it), but he also added that the UN was regularly checking for hidden arms in humanitarians buildings, be they schools or hospitals, and this wasn't a frequent and systematic problem, especially not a permanent long term one. So this sounds more like another pretext used by the Israelians. Last but not least he added that finding arms in a school isn't a justification to bomb innocent civilians. Bombing a school or an hospital whether there are some arms inside or not is clearly and in both cases a serious breach of the humanitarians laws.

  • Ignore the Smears: Germany's Green Energy is 1/3 of its Power, Price Falling, Coal Down
    • Thanks for a very interesting report. Some complementary information : renewable energy isn't only produced by solar and wind energy. It is also produced by hydrolic energy. Switzerland has a lot of dams retaining waters and this kind of electric energy is a lot more flexible than power plants fueled by fossil energies. We used to export energy at high cost during peak times, especially around midday when homes are cooking. (And to import energy when the prices were lower (with some of that energy used to repump water up to the dam for selling energy at peak time again).
      Now, as described, the highly subventionned solar/wind energies produced at reduced cost and flooding the market around 12 am is disrupting the hydroelectric companies here : some are encountering financial difficulties right when they should invest more in precision of the Swiss decision to get out of nuclear energy.

      I'm quite convinced that the future favors green and decentralized energy. But the traditional renewable hydro electric energy has a place too. In particular, it should replace nuclear energy within one or two decades. But the very consequent subventionning of green power is creating a big problem for traditional hydroelectric companies at the worst moment.
      Further what about the lithium resources needed to store solar or wind energy ? A dam is able to store a lot of water, aka clean renewable energy without resting on precious mining products like lithium etc.
      climate change however will be a problem in the long term : at first melting glaciers will product a lot more of water/energy, but then what when they have completely melt and dried out ?
      There is a lot of different aspect to consider in this energy question : it would be a quite a paradox if the increasing decentralized green energy production was hitting the traditional producers of hydroelectric energy, of the only clean and renewable energy for a long time.

  • Ukraine Crisis Shows Urgency of Green Energy: Russian Nat'l Gas Blackmail
    • Well said ! The US is aggressively trying to extend the NATO under the nose of the Russians. I can't understand that. And once again, the US is trying to draw the EU in moves that aren't in the interest of the EU.

    • I have just read an interesting article concerning sanctions against Russia : while Germany has a dependence of about 25-30% toward Gazprom, the East European states which are more adamant against Russia have a dependency of 80-100% toward Gazprom for their energy resources.
      It is quite paradoxical that the EU countries bordering the Russian frontier are at the same time more dependent from Russia, both for their energy and their economy, that they are nearer from Russia and would have more to loose if it came to military hostilities, yet they are more aggressive toward Russia at the same time, following the US hardliners.

    • I'm supporting green energy too, but it has nothing to do with the EU relationships with Russia.
      A few remarks :
      1) Gaz is a cleaner energy than coal although not renewable (and Germany had a lot of coal mines ! Although many were closed down because they became to expensive to exploit)
      2) diminishing the EU dependence toward Russian gaz wouldn't be enough to encourage more aggressive EU actions toward Russia : Russia is Germany's second biggest trade partner for its exportations.
      3) why should the EU support the US call for a resurgence of the Cold War ? We have a real interest in good and pacifist relationships with Russia. Why should we support the US fight for world supremacy when it is our interest to have peaceful relationships with everybody ?

  • A New Crimean War? (Update: Stuff's Getting Real)
    • "As in the 1850s, the West has an interest in seeing Russian power blocked from that part of Europe (...)."

      The West ? I think it is rather the US, not so much the Europeans. The EU, Germany in particular, are more interested in having good relationships with Russia : we want their gaz/energy and we want that they can flow smoothly through the pipelines in Ukraine. Further, Russia is helping the crawling economy of Ukraine, while the EU has enough economic problems without helping the Ukrainians out. The EU has a very high quote of joblessness. They don't need to add the jobless Ukrainians to that quote due to the free movement of people in the EU. Why do you think that the US ambassador mouthed that F..ck the EU famous sentence ? There is visibly a lack of enthusiasm on the part of the EU. We don't need to add Ukraine to the EU. It is in sphere of influence of Russia and why should we object ? It has been so since such a linguistic time, as you write.

      "As in the 1850s, one flash point in this geopolitical struggle is Crimea and its Russian naval facilities. Today, the Russian fleet based at Sevastopol plies the Black Sea and goes through the Bosporus Straits to Tartus, Syria’s Mediterranean naval port."

      I don't even understand why the US is trying to change that fact. Unless it was looking for a war. Isn't the Cold War over since decades ? As US power us diminishing she is becoming more and more aggressive, but that will only hasten its downfall.

      "As in the 1850s, the West worries about Russian hegemony in the Middle East, with Syria being today’s flashpoint. Russia supports the Baath government of Bashar al-Assad, whereas the West largely supports the Free Syrian Army (but not the al-Qaeda affiliates among the rebels). Russia also has better relations with Iran than does the West."

      The West ? No the US. the EU is perfectly happy with a balance of power in the ME and a multipolar world. If the US thinks that the Europeans will follow them in their aggressive way of dealing with the rest of the world, they are seriously mistaken. Germany in particular has no interest in confronting Russia and reactivating a Cold War. The US is creating havoc wherever it goes, encouraging even the most reactionary forces, both in Syria and in Ukraine. After the US intervention there is only failed states left (Afghanistan, Iraq, Lybia etc.. And now they are on their way to achieve the same thing with Syria and Ukraine).

  • How the National Security State creates its own Whistleblowers, with a Letter to the Next One (Engelhardt)
  • Arguing with President Putin
    • Wow ! What an anti-Russia anti-Putin diatribe !

      A few remarks :

      1) The main UN goal, its founding principle, is to prevent aggression between states, it isn't really to meddle in internal politics.

      2) Putin is absolutely right concerning the way Americans are decredibilizing the UN. This is nothing new and what the neocons have continually and explicitly done since at least the first Bush election. Obamma in his first presidential campaign and right after he was elected pretended he would like to restore the role of international organizations and favor multilateral actions, but in fact he has just continued the Bush foreign policy.

      2) Since the fall of the Soviet Union, I don't think that the Russian have done anything to hurt the UN credibility, on the contrary this is mainly the fact of the US. How can you compare the Russian refusal to allow strikes on Syria with the readiness of Obamma to agress military a country that isn't threatening the US in any way without a UNSC resolution ? Especially if you agree yourself that striking Syria is a bad idea ?

      3) There is a fight for influence between the US who wants to control all the Middle East and those who wants to balance the US power in that region. Russia stands now at the forefront, but do you think that China would be happy if the Middle East was totally controlled by the US ? All the BRICS countries are in agreement opposing the US strikes; there is not only Russia.

      4) I very much doubt that the US is actively supporting the Syrian rebels only out of democratic and humanitarian noble principles. US past support of many dictatorial regimes is well known : US hides behind those great principles only when it fits its own strategical goals. They were supporting Pakistan and Egypt dictators not so long ago and are still not explicitly admitting that a military coup has put a free elected government down in Egypt this very year. The way the Syrian case was presented in the western medias was really smelling the same way as when the US mounted its WMD case against Iraq. Aka some covert agencies were preparing the public opinion for war, without giving any proves, just repeating the same mantra over and over again; you know, Goebbels saying : when a lie is repeated often enough, it will become truth. However we still don't know for sure who launched the chemical attacks.

  • Top Ten things Americans need to Know about Syria if they're going to Threaten to Bomb It
    • Accident : the editor added a dot at the end of the URL and noe the link don't work unless you erase that dot from the new opening window.

    • The French/German TV channel Arte has a regular geopolitical emission entitled "Le dessous des cartes" aka "Under the Maps" where each week they try to decipher the world challenges using maps. It is a remarquable emission produced by a Political Geographer : François Victor.

      Here is a link to the emission they made on the Black Sea And "the pipes geopolitic" : link to ddc.arte.tv.

      It is available either in French or in German and one can buy each emission separately or get access to five years of archives for a monthly fee.
      (You have to view it on a computer, it won't work on a tablet).

      Here is a link to the presentation of the last emission :
      link to ddc.arte.tv

      One can view the latest emission for free during one week here :
      link to arte.tv

      This is a wonderful emission, a very didactical one. One that regular reader of this blog would surely enjoy if it was available in English.

      (And one that shows how public TV channels are vastly superior to private commercial TV channels)

    • By sea : The gas pipeline arriving through Turkey in the Black sea have to cross the Bosphorus which is very straight and crowded and as such dangerous for big tankers. The road to Syrian ports is also shorter from Iraq (Look at the map :-) )

      I seem to remember that there is a pipeline project through Syria (?). Also it is always good to have alternative roads, both for the sellers and the consumers.

      IMO, you are underestimating the importance of Syria when it comes to pipelines.

  • How US Grand Strategy in Syria led to the idea of Missile Strikes
    • Thanks for the clear explanations of the different rebels' ideologies.

      Personnally I think that the US is fighting to get the full dominance of this ressource rich region that is the extended Middle East. After the fall of Iraq, Syria and Iran are the only regimes still escaping this US dominance (the Egypt coup and the return of the military makes sure that Egypt will stay under US influence, more or less, their nationalism and pseudo nasserism notwithstanding).

      So I really doubt that Russia, Iran and China will not veto an UNSC authorization to strike Syria. That would open the door to US full dominance of the extended Middle East and why would Russia and China allow this at a time of shrinking oil ressources ? They can't accept the possibility of US de facto monopolizing the oil distribution and deciding who get what and how much.

      Total dominance can't remain uncontested for long.

  • Obama Isolated at G20 on Syria, No 'Coalition of the Willing'
    • As a European, the biggest surprise for me comes from the socialst François Hollande's, not from the fact that the EU isn't supporting a US intervention in Syria : we are all fed up from US interventionism.

      As for the humanitarian pretexts used by the US : well the US concerns are always very selective. They didn't have any when the bombed Falluja and used depleted uranium in Iraq. Or napalm in Vietnam.

      Will the US imperial madness never cease ? How many wars do you need ? Why does a Democrate president look for new wars instead of financing a better education system, more health care, innovation in green energy, etc. ? I don't get it. I thought the US foreign policy won't change much with Obamma, didn't have much illusions.. But I wasn't expecting he would start new wars. I thought he would just try to end the ones started by Bush.

      What a deception .. On all counts.. François Hollande included. I don't get it.

  • Where is our Amsterdam? Lavabits, Snowden & Wikileaks Censorship recall age of Absolutism
    • That is an incredibly smearing job ! Weake up, the cold war is past.. America is becoming - or rather is already - a police State : your try to reverse things is doomed; US is not more virtuous than China or Russia. I'm shocked by the extent of the US spying.
      I always knew that the image of the US as the champion of liberties and the leader of the free world against totalitarianism (aka Soviet Union and communsm) was mere ideology, but nevertheless, I'm shocked by the extent of US spying.
      And be assured that they will wrestle with any other nation trying to resist their spying. We already know from Snowden that UK intelligence had to spy for them in exchange of ressources, no western countries dared to offer asylum to Snowden and this defie the US..

      Where is the early utopia of the infinite Internet freedom ?

  • Detroit's Bankruptcy and America's Future: Robots, Race, Globalization and the 1%
    • You may like reading André Gorz books (alias Michel Bosquet). He wrote similar things already in the seventies.

      link to amazon.com

      link to amazon.com

      In particular ecology and politic and his views on the waged work and capitalism.

      He thought that with the progress of robotic people could work about four hours a week in noyous waged work to satisfy their basic needs and the rest of the time dedicate themselves to gratifying tasks like art or sciences or whatever they enjoy. People would exchange the product of that gratifying work/leisure outside of the monetary system.

      It is a great utopia.. But alas only an utopia. The world has evolved toward wild capitalism, like it was in the XIX. I think that the communist ideology was strong enough to keep western capitalism under check, but since the collapse of the USSR and of the communist ideology, we are living a return to wild capitalism. Big corporations interests pressure all parties to get tax cuts and the states and communities are starved and have to cut their services. Meanwhile the riches get more riches every year.

      Sooner or later societies will explodes. Detroit story is scary, but I agree that t is only the beginning.

  • Snowden: US now using deprivation of Citizenship as a Weapon
    • Assange can't be extradited by Britain because he resides in the Ecuador Ambassy : ambassies are considered out of the jurisdiction of the countries acoiling them. However Assange can't put a foot out of that Ambassy without risking to be extradited to Sweden.

    • Snowden should ask travel documents from the UN HCR : it isn't uncommon for refugees to leave their countries without passport.

      What I don't know is how you can get that kind off documents : they are probably mostly distributed in refugees camps, by local UNHCR agencies. May be also by the ICRC who is present in conflict zones.

      No doubt that he US would try to pressure the UNHCR to refuse such documents to Snowden.. The US is quite influential in UN organizations.

  • After Benedict: Religions have to Democratize if they are to Survive
    • Here is another link to the percentage of believers in god by Europeans countries. I'm not sure why you thought that Germans were better believers than other Europeans countries. My gut feeling was that they weren't very different from the others. The Polish have a strong reputation as Catholics fervents and South Medeterraneans countries (like Ialy or Spain) as having more religious fervor than Protestant Northeners. The French as atheists.. This map confirms this : link to en.wikipedia.org

    • Here is another link to a statistic table presenting the religious evolution between 1910 to 2010 in Switzerland and showing that secularism is progressing faster among Protestants than among Catholics :

      link to bfs.admin.ch

      1910 : Protestants = 56.2%, Catholics 42.5%
      2000 : Protestants = 33.0%, Catholics 41.8%
      2010 : Protestants = 28.0%, Catholics 38.6%

      It is significant that in the home country of both Calvin and Zwingli Catholics are now more numerous than Protestants. And immigration is far from explaining it alone. So absolutism isn't the only reason driving westerners away from religion. Or how would you explain that secularism is growing faster among Protestants who are both more progressive and more democratic than Catholics ?
      May be that religion has lost its pertinence in our modern societies and that Protestants who are more accustomed to think by themselves are leaving the church faster ?

    • I think that you are mixing two things :
      1) the conservatism of the Roman Catholic Church
      2) the growing secularism of western societies.

      The two aren't necessarily linked. On the contrary. Here in Switzerland, the evangelical churches are loosing parishers faster than the Catholic Church. This is striking to the point that cities which where traditionally evangelical, like Geneva where Calvin was born and which is at the root of Calvinism counted only 17.4% of Protestants against 39.5% Roman Catholics (that was in 2000, religion is no more asked in the 2010 census). 22.6 % declared to have no religion and 12.1% didn't want to answer to the question. Look at this graph here : link to ge.ch

      Migration plays a role in this change (immigrants were often coming from South Europeans catholic countries like Spain and Italy, or from other Swiss poorer catholic states), but also the fact that secularism gained ground faster among Evangelicals than among Catholics.

      I chose Geneva, because it used to be a stronghold of Protestantism, but this is true of most other Protestant cities here.

      The true question is whether people believe in the existence of a god or not. Every catholic knows that even priesters are human and that humans are sinners. If they believe in god, they can forgive, they will just pray for the Church and for the sinners.

      More than the recent pedophile scandals, the general conservatism of the Catholic Church is what drives people out : the church is no more in touch with their social reality or their scientific knowledge. People were already leaving churches way before the pedophile scandals and those scandals have stirred more passions and indignation in North America than in Europe.

      What I regreat personnally is that socialism wasn't able to replace the religious moral by a secularist one, built upon solidarity and peaceful values (aka what you name the good of the Roman Catholic Church).

  • New Pope has Opportunity to Improve Christian-Muslim Relations
    • It is not he business of the Americans to tell the Europeans whether Turkey should be a member of the EU or not. Most of the European opinions are against the adhesion of Turkey. It has not much to do with Turkey being a Muslim country, but more with the fact that Turkey is still an emerging country when it comes to the economy. The EU has enough problems with Greece and other Mediterranean countries without integrating a country which would need important regional help. Plus the Turkish political system doesn't yet correspond to the Western democratic standards (ie the Kurdish question). There are many reasons why the Turks don't really fit into the EU equation, their religion being probably among the least important. The US and their Brittish lackeys are pushing toward the integration of Turkey, because that fits their NATO goals and will weaken the EU. Widening the EU to weaken it is a constant goal of the Americans (and of the Britts who only wants a loose economic union). It was written black on white in the neocons American Enterprise project.

      As for the pope, who really cares ? They have been more and more reactionary after the timid pushes to reform initiated by Jean XXIII and the second Vatican Concile; it is now a lost cause : they are all dinausores in the Vatican and the cardinals chosen by reactionary popes will elect one of them, not a progressive for sure. Yes, it would be better if the future pope is open to all religions and works toward a better understanding between different religions, of course, but I don't hold my breath.

  • Ahmadinejad: US must Cease Militarily Targetting Iran before Direct Negotiations
    • I think that the end goal of the US isn't to prevent Iran to get nuclear power, it is to control the whole ME oil ressources and to prevent China to get too much of it. Their goal is to make to Iran what they did to Iraq : weaken them through sanctions enough, isolate them and either change the regime with a more US friendly regime they can control, or if that doesn't work, invade them. I agree with you that Iran doesn't want nuclear warheads, but that since that is just a pretext for the US it doesn't really matters.

      The irony of it is that as you have demonstrated, this will just push the Iranian to ship more oil to the Chinese and other Asian markets. This may push the US to try regime change harder, or even to go to war (depending how things turn after Obama) .

  • 8,775 Firearm Murders a Year in US, Equiv. of 290 in UK
    • I won't contest the fact that US is a more violent society than Switzerland but we have got our problems too with assault riffles; this is the worst case and probably the worst in the EU too :
      link to en.wikipedia.org
      14 parliament and executive members were killed by a mad gunner breaking into the parliament hall during a session of the state's parliament back in 2001. He felt he was persecuted and committed suicide after the deed.

    • Your graph doesn't tell which observation period is considered. For less populated countries, like Sweden, Switzerland or Israel, you need to consider a much longer period than one year if you want to make a statistic over such rare events as murders by firearms, with respect to th population. The numbers can swing dramatically from one year to the next.

      That said, in Switzerland our gun culture isn't very different than in the US. About two years ago : Just over 56 per cent of Swiss voters threw out a proposal to ban army-issue firearms from the home and set up a central arms register in a bid to curb gun violence. More here : link to swissinfo.ch
      Switzerland has an unusually high suiccide rate compared to other European countries : if I remember correctly, it is only by passed by the Japanese. This is the most used argument by those who wants to limit firearms.Transactions between individuals are completely free and uncontrolled and there is no central register of persons owning a firearm. Automatic guns used in the army are standing in any soldiers home during all the year, even when they are off duty, etc..
      The debate resurfaced again last week after a mad gunman left three dead women and two wounded men in a very small alpine village : link to swissinfo.ch

  • The Coming Conflict between the US and Israel (Chernus)
    • Why on earth do you think that the Europeans governments need a push or an authorization from Obama to show their disapproval toward Israel ?

      The European opinions are more and more against Israel which is no re seen as a victime, as a David against Goliath, but as exactly the opposite. And that is wat counts for elected governments.

  • The Speech President Obama Should Give about the Iraq War (But Won't)
    • Wow.. what a great speach ! I liked it and it is really what I'd like to hear. It is a honnest analysis of what the Americans have done to the Iraqi and why it is wrong.

      However, I'd add two-four important points at the end :

      1) The US president should present the official excuses of America to the Iraqi people.
      2) The US president should offer due and generous compensations for all the damages created by the US invasion and occupation. The amount should be decided by a neutral institution (the UN ?) and be fair, allowing the reconstruction of a devastated Iraq.
      3) The US president should say when the remaining 50'000 troops and the private security guards paid by the Americans will withdraw too and this should be in a relatively short term (a question of years, not dozen of years).
      4) The US should recognize that his huge ambassy is totally disproportionated, as are the numberous conselors and advisers; the most part of those buildings should be given to the Iraqi. As is, the so called ambassy looks more like a colonial administration supervising the local government. It is clear that as long as so many Americans stay in Iraq, Iraq is a free independant country only on the paper.

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