On Monday, we presented the views of Three foes of intervention in Libya, and one supporter with misgivings. Tonight, we present four friends.
Lt. Gen Roméo Dallaire was force commander of the U.N. peacekeeping mission for Rwanda in 1994. He is now a senator in the Canadian Parliament and co-director of the Will to Intervene project at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies. Jeffrey Bernstein is project officer for genocide prevention to Lt. Gen Dallaire. He writes Now Let's Hope It's Not Too Late:
By employing genocidal threats to "cleanse Libya house by house," Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi forced the world community's hand in taking strong action to protect the human rights of all Libyans. The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine -- which requires the U.N. Security Council to take action when a country fails to protect its citizens and was unanimously adopted by all countries of the U.N. General Assembly in 2005 -- has clearly and unequivocally laid the problem of Libya at our feet. That Qaddafi committed crimes against humanity was never in question; indeed he was almost universally condemned for his maniacal acts and statements. So the real question is, why wasn't R2P unanimously invoked by world leaders?
The failure to invoke R2P early -- while Gaddafi was calling protesters "cockroaches" and threatening mass, door-to-door atrocities, such as those I witnessed in Rwanda -- represents a colossal missed opportunity to project the potential power of this still-developing norm. The arms embargo and targeted sanctions slapped on Qaddafi's regime and cronies in late February, as well as the referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court, demonstrated the Security Council's attention and resolve -- timeliness that was absent during Rwanda and Darfur. But once it became clear these measures were insufficient to deter Qaddafi's advance on the regime's opponents and guarantee civilian protection, the implementation of the now-approved no-fly zone and other more coercive measures should have been seriously expedited. Furthermore, invoking R2P would have sent a critical signal to Libyans and other besieged populations the world community approves of their democratic efforts?and is willing to intervene, if necessary, when their human rights are so threatened.
Sarah El Neweihi is an Egyptian American who will complete her MA in Near and Middle East Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London next year. She has served as Middle East Intern for the American Friends Service Committee in Chicago. She writes, Why I Support Foreign Intervention in Libya:
A large number of the anti-war activists whom I have stood side by side with at many a protest have shocked me with their statements condemning all foreign intervention in Libya and even shaming the rebels for asking for help. This hypocrisy confounds me. It was my understanding that leftist activists were supposed to support the people against those who oppress the people, and in this case, it is obvious that the only one oppressing the people of Libya is their dictator, Gaddafi. ...
When a brutal dictator makes repetitive threats to his people on the radio that his well- equipped forces will hunt those who oppose him ?dar, dar? (house by house) and ?zenga, zenga? (street by street), and actually starts to follow through on these threats, he leaves no choice to the international community but to try to stop him from massacring his own people. The same people who are now in effect defending Gaddafi on Facebook were huge supporters of the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia. Was that only because they were able to do it on their own? So, we are willing to support the people with words but not with actions? ...
Bush?s hasty unilateral intervention in Iraq should not paralyze the world when international military intervention is needed to prevent war crimes or humanitarian atrocities. These interventions were justified and essential in the Balkans and the first Gulf war. Inaction can lead to more costly intervention later. After the first Gulf war, the world stood and watched as Saddam crushed the uprising by the Kurds and the Shia, and brutalized his nation for another decade. A strategic intervention at that time could have prevented the more costly war of 2003 and would not have been based on lies and U.S. interests. It should be said that I am usually first in line to criticize the flawed policies of the U.S. but to criticize an action just because it comes from the U.S. is irrational and immature. This was not a unilateral action, and Obama has said that the U.S. will reduce its role in upcoming days to ensure that the burden of the UN resolution is shared.
Kenneth Roth is executive director of Human Rights Watch. He writes, The Security Council Has At Last Lived Up To Its Duty:
Just when the "responsibility to protect" doctrine seemed to have become irretrievably tainted at the United Nations, the Security Council at last lived up to its duty to prevent mass atrocities. For the second time in three weeks, the council accomplished the politically impossible, first referring Libya to the International Criminal Court, then, yesterday, authorizing military force to protect civilians from Muammar al-Qaddafi's wrath.
What accounts for this remarkable turn of events? In part, it was the perfect villain: Qaddafi's over-the-top threats to "show no mercy" to the people of Benghazi, along with his regional meddling and megalomaniac ideas, left him few friends or defenders. ...
The challenge now is not only to translate this remarkable Security Council consensus into effective protection for Libyans. It is to extend the human rights principles embraced for Libya to other people in need. The atrocities unfolding in the Ivory Coast demand just as much attention. Other people of the Middle East and North Africa are seeing their hopes for democracy quashed by authoritarian leaders. The people of Burma and Sri Lanka have endured massive war crimes with no justice. Can the Security Council respond to their plight as well? Can it begin to recognize that a leader's atrocities against his own people are a global concern, not an internal affair? No one believes these steps will be easy, but the task before us is to translate the Security Council's principled reaction to Libya into a broader doctrine of genuine protection for people facing mass atrocities.
Terry Glavin is an adjunct professor of creative writing at the University of British Columbia and editor of Transmontanus Books. He writes, Left-wing ?progressives? deaf to Libyan democrats:
It?s worth pointing out how people who fake solidarity in these ways would have responded to the Spanish republican appeal for intervention during the early goings of the last century?s great anti-fascist war: ?They would sit back and let the Spanish Revolution be burned to the ground by the Falange forces, and they would sit there and watch, doing everything in their power to stop the ?imperialist powers? from ?hi-jacking? the Spanish Revolution. ...
?If I am taken to be uncritical of conservatives about this it?s just that I don?t have any particular expectation that conservatives will show leadership when it comes to what we used to call international solidarity. It?s why they?re called ?conservatives,? so fair play to them. If I seem especially uncharitable to the ?left? here it is because of certain standards. When it comes to a question so elementary as the duty to heed the appeals of brave young democrats who have risen up in arms against a mad tyrant and his mercenaries, one anticipates that a progressive left would be the least encumbered by narrowly conservative, status-quo and ?realist? considerations.
It shouldn?t be too much to expect that progressives in any such circumstance would be acutely mindful of what the revolutionaries were wanting, and would fight like hell to get it for them. No ?progressive? position worthy of the name would counsel otherwise, least of all take the other side. This should apply whether the revolutionaries have risen up against an Islamist theocracy, a US-backed police state or a plum weird tyranny like the Libyan regime. It should apply where there is oil, and where there is no oil.
? ? ? ? ?
At Daily Kos on this date in 2007:
Kagro has condemned those GOP appropriations members for their no vote on the supplemental funding bill. For good reason, because the individual "support the troops" amendments that they opposed showed their hands and their willingness to put politics before the troops. We've seen far too many votes for funding this war that ignored the needs of the troops, that sent them to war with inadequate training, inadequate armor, and repeat deployments that are destroying the health, morale, and strength of our troops.
But as the House leadership continues to whip for tomorrow's supplemental vote, it's becoming more and more clear that this is a vote of conscience for many
Title: Stormy MondayArtist: T-Bone Walker
We weathered 'Stormy Monday', but according to the great T-Bone Walker "Tuesday's just as bad". You think?
Barely-celeb former SNL cast member Victoria Jackson wrote a bunch of homophobic remarks about Glee and then tried to Bible-lize her way out them on Showbiz Tonight.[...]
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All over the country, it's true, as Rachel says...it's not about the budget (and between 200 and 800-something million, Gov. "Space Cadet" Corbett? Wow, that's some "sound fiscal management," all right...maybe in Bizarro-land)...
...and here's a melodic and contemplative tune to help us wind down at the end of the day.
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Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant
Image: Wikipedia CommonsTrust us, they say. Things are different than they used to be in the nuclear industry. Reactor vessels are no longer installed backwards. Lessons have been learned from mistakes. It can't happen here.
Uh-huh. At The New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi, Norimitsu Onishi and Ken Belson report that Japan Extended Reactor?s Life, Despite Warning:
Just a month before a powerful earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi plant at the center of Japan?s nuclear crisis, government regulators approved a 10-year extension for the oldest of the six reactors at the power station despite warnings about its safety.
Several weeks after a 10-year extension was granted for the Fukushima Daiichi plant, its operator admitted that it had failed to inspect 33 pieces of equipment related to the plant's cooling systems.
Eisaku Sato, a former governor, called the system flawed.
The regulatory committee reviewing extensions pointed to stress cracks in the backup diesel-powered generators at Reactor No. 1 at the Daiichi plant, according to a summary of its deliberations that was posted on the Web site of Japan?s nuclear regulatory agency after each meeting. The cracks made the engines vulnerable to corrosion from seawater and rainwater. The generators are thought to have been knocked out by the tsunami, shutting down the reactor?s vital cooling system. ...
Several weeks after the extension was granted, the company admitted that it had failed to inspect 33 pieces of equipment related to the cooling systems, including water pumps and diesel generators, at the power station?s six reactors, according to findings published on the agency?s Web site shortly before the earthquake.
Nobody could have foreseen. Right?
Then there's this guy, whose accusations are not new. But they apparently haven't been investigated thoroughly either:
One of the reactors in the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant may have been relying on flawed steel to hold the radiation in its core, according to an engineer who helped build its containment vessel four decades ago.
Mitsuhiko Tanaka says he helped conceal a manufacturing defect in the $250 million steel vessel installed at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi No. 4 reactor while working for a unit of Hitachi Ltd. (6501) in 1974. The reactor, which Tanaka has called a ?time bomb,? was shut for maintenance when the March 11 earthquake triggered a 7-meter (23-foot) tsunami that disabled cooling systems at the plant, leading to explosions and radiation leaks. ...
[During heating to remove welding stress the reactor] vessel had sagged so that its height and width differed by more than 34 millimeters, meaning it should have been scrapped, according to nuclear regulations. Rather than sacrifice years of work and risk the company?s survival, Tanaka?s boss asked him to reshape the vessel so that no-one would know it had ever been damaged. Tanaka had been working as an engineer for the company?s nuclear reactor division and was known for his programming skills.
The warped vessel was not a safety problem, said a spokesperson for Hitachi Ltd., the reactor maker. Uh-huh.
Mycle Schneider says:
As far back as 2005, I warned Eisaku Sato, governor of Fukushima at the time, about the dangers of letting spent fuel accumulate in cooling ponds at the prefecture?s nuclear plants and the need to put it into much safer dry stores as soon as possible. He seemed to be the only one who listened. But clearly there were people who always knew better and whose arrogance characterizes the nuclear industry. ...
The nuclear industry has always lacked foresight. On 3/11, Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. was still recovering after a massive tremor that shut down its seven Kashiwazaki units on the west coast in July 2007 and three reactors are still off-line. Tepco and the authorities didn?t hear that wake- up call, brushing off the warnings of many experts.
Not just brushing off, but brushing off with sneers.
As my colleague Laurence Lewis wrote here on Sunday:
This is an industry with a long record of cover-ups of dangerously damaged facilities, and cover-ups of safety violations, and unreported radioactive leaks, and inadequate waste storage protections, and napping guards, and more radioactive leaks, and more radioactive leaks, and on and on. WikiLeaks even comes into play, with the revelation that in December 2008 an official of the International Atomic Energy Agency specifically warned that seismic safeguards at nuclear plants were outdated and inadequate. Which was dutifully ignored by the typically dutiful media, the industry, and governments. Which may be the real but unintended meaning of the president's words about nuclear power, that we can "do that in a much more effective way."
It's been argued that this is the way all corporations operate. That such is the natural order. That the nuclear industry's behavior is no different and it shouldn't be held to a higher standard than other corporations that cut corners, conceal potentially lethal problems and laugh about it all the way to bank. You would think their PR departments would rework that argument just a bit. Come up with something a little more soothing. But, then, why should they as long as captive regulators don't do their jobs?
Essays Featured Tuesday the 22nd of March~Veruca Salt kicks off the day in Late Night Karaoke, mishima DJsSix Brilliant Articles! from Six Different Places!! on Six Different Topics!!! Six Days a[...]
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It's something one does to provoke controlled avalanches now, instead of waiting for uncontrolled ones later.
(H/t Huff Post Hill)
One of the weakening aspects of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill, now law, was how much power it ceded to regulators in not just implementation, but policy-making. That includes in the scope of new regulation regarding derivatives, which Congress wanted to be publicly traded in exchanges, a provision that had some last-minute exemptions tacked on, limiting exchange clearing to "standard" derivatives. Now Treasury Secretary Geithner seems poised to exempt a bigger chunk of these instruments, foreign-exchange swaps, from heightened regulations.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is close to a decision to exempt the $4 trillion-a-day foreign-currency market from key provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act requiring greater transparency in the trading of derivatives. In the horse-trading over the final conference version of that legislation last year, both Geithner and financial-industry executives lobbied extensively to give the Treasury secretary the right to create this loophole. As the practical reach of Dodd-Frank is defined by the executive branch, this will be the first major decision to signal whether regulators will act to strengthen or weaken the reforms....
Geithner has already made his own views clear. In testimony before the Senate Agricultural Committee in December 2009, he declared that the foreign-exchange market needed no special regulation. "The FX [foreign exchange] markets are different," he said. "They are not really derivative in a sense, and they don't present the same sort of risk, and there is an elaborate framework in place already to limit settlement risk."
However, previously confidential information recently made public by the Federal Reserve Board reveals that in the aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, the Fed pumped in $5.4 trillion over a three-month period to keep the foreign-currency market from collapsing. The Fed's peak injection of dollars on any one day occurred on Oct. 22, 2008, when it reached $823 billion, according to a Wall Street watchdog group's, Better Markets, analysis of the Fed data release....
Sen. Maria Cantwell, one of the most effective advocates for strong derivatives regulation during the Dodd-Frank debates, says, "I can't believe the first decision the administration would make to carry out Dodd-Frank would be an anti-transparency decision. The idea that the foreign-exchange markets are not at risk is preposterous -- we now know that they required multitrillion-dollar bailouts. Anytime you have a lack of transparency, there is potential for abuse."
Abuse of derivatives was at the absolute center of the financial meltdown. The collateralized debt obligations that were built on pyramids of sketchy mortgages whose value collapsed were, of course, derivatives. The mortgages themselves had been converted into highly leveraged, artificial securities -- the essence of a derivative. So were the credit-default swaps that took down American International Group. With a derivative, a tiny amount of capital can control a much larger financial bet, and until the Dodd-Frank reforms, the derivatives were constructed and traded privately, with no regulator scrutiny. If such bets go wrong, massive losses ensue. And in a generalized loss of confidence, even well-capitalized institutions fail to accept each other's credits.
Much of whether Dodd-Frank has any success at all in preventing another crisis (and with existing loopholes, the major power regulators have to write it, and the lack of any kind of on too-big-to-fail institutions that's already questionable) rests in how the rules for it are written. Right now, it looks like Geithner is leaning toward business as usual for the banks.
Sperm Whales May Have Names Subtle variations in sperm-whale calls suggest that individuals announce themselves with discrete personal identifier. To put it another way, they might have names.The findings are preliminary, based on observations of just[...]
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There wasn't room on the billboard to explain how.
Oklahoma proves that the primary motivating force for Republicans in political life is fear. Last year, voters in that state passed a ballot measure that banned state courts from considering Islamic law, or other international law, when deciding cases. That was blocked by a federal judge for because it violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
Well, constitution be damned, the issue is back, now in the state legislature.
Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern (R) introduced House Bill 1552 this month ? a reinvention of SQ 755 that addresses the legal issues holding up SQ 755 by banning the use of all foreign law in Oklahoma courts:State Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, is the author of House Bill 1552, which would ban the use of foreign law in Oklahoma courts. It declares that any court action will be ?void and unenforceable? if the decision is based ?on any law, rule, legal code or system that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the United States and Oklahoma Constitutions.?
Kern said the bill is similar to SQ 755, and is written to address some of the legal issues used to challenge it.
To address one of them, HB 1552 declares ?The Legislature fully recognizes the right to contract freely under the laws of this state, and also recognizes that this right may be reasonably and rationally circumscribed pursuant to the state?s interest to protect and promote rights and privileges granted under the United States or Oklahoma Constitutions.?
strong>Kern said the change will prevent activist judges from undermining the rights of American citizens. She noted that similar proposals have been filed in at least 20 other states.
Kern?s bill still violates the free exercise and establishment clauses of the First Amendment ? the violation that compelled a federal judge to block SQ 755 in the first place. CAIR-OK Director Muneer Awad notes that "in an attempt to target Islam without using the wording" of SQ 755, HB 1552 "will actually target all religions" by denying "people the use of Jewish Law, Catholic Law, or any other religious law" in private contracts "while also jeopardizing international business contracts that include forms of arbitration, choice of law clauses, or foreign law clauses" ? just like SQ 755. Indeed, SQ 755 is so poorly written that would ban the long-standing rights and sovereignty of Native Americans.
Of course, supporters of the ban haven't been able to statutorily cite a case in which Oklahoma courts have applied Sharia law in any ruling. Undeterred, Kern will let stupidity and fear reign. And will ignore inconvenient facts like how bans on gay marriage and abortion are awfully Sharia-like. Maybe Sharia is creeping into America, after all.