— The Erimtan Angle —

Archive for February, 2014

The War in Syria: FSA Divided???

‘General Salim Idriss has rejected his dismissal as military chief of the “rebel” Free Syrian Army, saying the whole chain of command needed a “total restructuring” – highlighting deep divisions in the opposition.Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra reports (19 Feb 2014)’.

Earlier, the pan-Arab broadcaster reported that the “rebel Free Syrian Army has fired Salim Idriss as its military chief, calling him ‘ineffective’ and lacking in experience to lead military operations on the ground. In a video broadcast on the internet on Sunday [, 16 February 2014] , the rebel coalition said its military council had decided to replace Idriss with Brigadier General Abdel-ilah Albashir. Colonel Qassem Saadeddine said the decision was taken due to ‘the paralysis within the military command these past months’. A source inside the Syrian opposition told AFP news agency that Idriss, who was appointed to the role in December 2012, had faced criticism for failings on the battlefield. Al Jazeera‘s Omar Al Saleh, reporting from Istanbul, said the Supreme Military Council said Idriss was ‘ineffective’ and ‘lacked the military experience to run operations on the ground’. They also said he had bad relations with other rebel forces fighting on the ground”.[1]  The Fars News Agency, in turn, reports that ‘a FSA source on Wednesday [, 19 February] blamed the shortcomings of Idriss’ leadership on international backers of the war, which have mainly directed military aid to factions fighting on the ground rather than to Idriss’.[2]  And it turns, even, or should that be, particularly, in the deadly game of war, money makes or breaks a man . . .

[2] “Rifts Deepen; Syria Rebel Leaders Say Idris Removal was a ‘Coup’” FNA (20 Feb 2014). http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13921201000320.

More Bad News: Fukushima Leaks

Mari Saito reports that the “operator of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant said on Thursday [, 20 February 2014] that 100 tonnes of highly contaminated water had leaked out of a tank, the worst incident since last August [2013], when a series of radioactive water leaks sparked international alarm. Tokyo Electric Power Co told reporters the latest leak was unlikely to have reached the ocean. But news of the leak at the site, devastated by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami, further undercut public trust in a utility rocked by a string of mishaps and disclosure issues”.[1]

Saito continues that “Tepco said water overflowed from a large storage tank at the site late on Wednesday [, 19 February 2014] after a valve had remained open by mistake and sent too much contaminated water into a separate holding area. A worker patrolling the area, around 700 metres from the ocean, spotted drips of water leaking through a drain attached to the side of the tank. The utility has been harshly criticised for its response to the three nuclear meltdowns following the quake and tsunami at the plant, 220 km (130 miles) north of Tokyo. A nuclear regulatory official last week said Tepco delayed release of record-high measurements of strontium-90 in groundwater despite repeated requests by the regulator. Initial measurements of the latest incident showed the leaked water had a reading of 230 million becquerels per litre of beta-emitting radioactive isotopes, including strontium 90”.[2]

[1] Mari Saito, “New highly radioactive leak at Japan’s Fukushima plant” Reuters (20 Feb 2014). http://www.firstpost.com/world/new-highly-radioactive-leak-at-japans-fukushima-plant-1400111.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter.

[2] Mari Saito, “New highly radioactive leak at Japan’s Fukushima plant”.

Ukraine Unrest 2014: The latest Chapter in New Cold War


As “the Arab Awakening [was] the beginning of a New Cold War between the U.S. and Russia”, its current chapter is now being written in the Ukraine, where EU and U.S.-backed protesters are staging a “coup attempt” against the elected government backed by Putin’s Russia. And, as seems usual, the real reason appears to be oil and gas, Russian oil and gas destined for the EU . . . in addition to a host of other reasons as well.

Trainor, Jr. referred to Paul Craig Roberts’s article: “As I reported on February 12, “Washington Orchestrated Protests Are Destabilizing Ukraine,” Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, a rabid Russophobe and neoconservative warmonger, told the National Press Club last December that the US has “invested” $5 billion in organizing a network to achieve US goals in Ukraine in order to give “Ukraine the future it deserves.” Nuland is the Obama regime official who was caught red-handed naming the members of the Ukrainian government Washington intends to impose on the Ukrainian people once the paid protesters have unseated the current elected and independent government. What Nuland means by Ukraine’s future under EU overlordship is for Ukraine to be looted like Latvia and Greece and to be used by Washington as a staging ground for US missile bases against Russia. From the responses I received to my request for confirmations of the information sent to me from Moldova, there is enough evidence that Washington fomented the violent riots for western newspapers and TV channels to investigate. But they haven’t. As we know, the presstitutes are enablers of Washington’s crimes and duplicities. However, the US media has reported that the Ukrainian government is paying Ukrainians to rally in favor of the government. The Ukrainian government will have a hard time matching Washington’s $5 billion. As Karl Marx wrote, money turns everything into a commodity that is bought and sold. I wouldn’t be surprised if some protesters are working both sides of the street. Of course, not all of the protesters are paid. There are plenty of gullible dupes in the streets who think they are protesting Ukraine government corruption. I have heard from several. There is little doubt that the Ukraine government is corrupt. What government isn’t? Government corruption is universal, but it is easy to go from the frying pan into the fire. Ukrainian protesters seem to think that they can escape corruption by joining the EU. Obviously, these gullible dupes are unfamiliar with the report on EU corruption issued February 3 by the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs. The report says that a business-political nexus of corruption affects all 28 EU member countries and costs the EU economies $162.2 billion per annum. According to the World Bank, the economic cost of EU corruption is almost as large as the size of Ukrainian GDP. Clearly, Ukrainians will not escape corruption by joining the EU. Indeed, Ukrainians will suffer worse corruption”.[1]

[1] P. C. Roberts, “US and EU Are Paying Ukrainian Rioters and Protesters” IPE (17 Feb 2014). http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/02/17/us-eu-paying-ukrainian-rioters-protesters-paul-craig-roberts/.

Climate Change: Talking to Tim DeChristopher

‘An Interview with Tim DeChristopher, the founder of Peaceful Uprising who is widely known known for one of the more creative acts of non violent insurrection and civil disobedience in recent memory when he disrupted a government oil and gas lease auction in order to protect fragile land in southern Utah from long term damage. That story became the subject of the documentary Bidder 70, and that act resulted in DeChrispher spending 21 months in federal custody. Tim is among the organizers calling for a Global Climate Convergence for People, Planet and Peace over Profit, whose mission is “an education and direct action campaign beginning this spring, with “10 days to change course,” running from Earth Day to May Day. It provides coordinated action and collaboration across fronts of struggle and national borders to harness the transformative power we already possess as a thousand separate movements. These grassroots justice movements are sweeping the globe, rising up against the global assault on our shared economy, ecology, peace and democracy. The accelerating climate disaster, which threatens to unravel civilization as soon as 2050, intensifies all of these struggles and creates new urgency for collaboration and unified action. The Convergence creates a unifying call for a solution as big as the crisis barreling down on us — an emergency Green Economic Transformation through a Global Green New Deal including universal jobs, health care, education, food and housing security, economic and political democracy, demilitarization, an end to deportations, and 100% clean renewable energy by 2030.” (18 Feb 2014)’.

In order to provide some context to the above interview, I would like to quote the independent journalist and climate activist a Wen Stephenson explaining in the Boston-based Phoenix that on “July 26, 2011. Inside a federal courtroom in Salt Lake City, Utah, a 30-year-old climate activist named Tim DeChristopher is sentenced to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine for disrupting a Bureau of Land Management auction of oil and gas leases back in December 2008. Registered as Bidder #70, he managed to win bids worth $1.8 million for some 22,000 acres of public land near Canyonlands National Park — bids he had no way of paying. He had acted spontaneously, on his conscience, engaged in nonviolent resistance to the heedless new extraction of fossil fuels that are catastrophically heating the planet and threatening innumerable innocent lives. Weeks before his sentencing, DeChristopher  told Rolling Stone‘s Jeff Goodell: ‘I’m a climate-justice activist. . . . We want a radically different world. We want a healthy, just world’. But first, he said,’we need to get the fossil fuel industry out of the way. First we’ve got to overthrow the corporate power that is running our government’. He understands what that requires. ‘It will involve confrontation and it will involve sacrifice’. At his sentencing, standing before the federal judge, DeChristopher concludes a long, eloquent statement that spreads across the Internet and galvanizes a growing climate-justice movement: ‘This is not going away. At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like. In these times of a morally bankrupt government that has sold out its principles, this is what patriotism looks like. With countless lives on the line, this is what love looks like, and it will only grow. The choice you are making today is what side are you on'”.[1]

[1] Wen Stephensonm ” The New Abolitionists: Global warming is the great moral crisis of our time” The Phoenix (12 March 2013). http://thephoenix.com/Boston/news/151670-new-abolitionists-global-warming-is-the-great/.

Ekümenopolis: Ucu Olmayan Şehir | 2012 (English Subtitles)

‘İmre Azem imza attığı bu ilk uzun metrajlı belgeselinde, seyircileri yıkık gecekondu mahallelerinden gökdelenlerin zirvesine, son yılların büyük projesi Marmaray’dan ihale aşamasındaki üçüncü köprü projesine kadar İstanbul’un yeni rant mekanlarını, ve tüm bu senaryolar arasına sıkışan kent insanlarını beyazperdeye taşıyor. 2011 Saraybosna İnsan Hakları Ödülü’ne layık görülen film gezdiği çeşitli festivallerden sonra ticari vizyonda da gösterime girecek’.

Solar Power Plant Online: Ivanpah Goes Live!!!

On the online magazine DailyTech Tiffany Kaiser notes that “[s]olar just got a major boost as the world’s largest solar thermal power project officially opened [on 13 February 2014] . . . Ivanpah is located near the California-Nevada border, about 45 miles southwest of Las Vegas . . . According to NRG Energy, which co-owns the new complex along with Google and BrightSource Energy, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System will begin commercial operation [on 13 February 2014], although it started generating electricity last year. Ivanpah is . . . a $2.2 billion complex of three generating units, which together are capable of producing nearly 400 megawatts — enough to power 140,000 homes. Sporting the tagline “world’s largest solar thermal power project,” Ivanpah is five square miles of nearly 350,000 computer-controlled mirrors, which are about the size of a garage door each. They reflect sunlight to boilers at the top of 459-foot towers, where the sun heats water in the boilers’ tubes and make steam. This steam then drives turbines to generate electricity”.[1]

Tom Doyle, the president of NRG Solar, optimistically declared that “[c]leantech innovations such as Ivanpah are critical to establishing America’s leadership in large-scale, clean-energy technology that will keep our economy globally competitive over the next several decades . . . We see Ivanpah changing the energy landscape by proving that utility-scale solar is not only possible, but incredibly beneficial to both the economy and in how we produce and consume energy. Whether it’s partnering, developing or investing, NRG will continue to provide a diverse set of solutions and technologies to get the U.S. to the ultimate goal of providing affordable, reliable clean energy for everyone”.[2]  Doyle is clearly beating the nationalist drum in an effort to silence critics of renewable energy. Kaiser adds that the “U.S. Energy Information Administration data said the cost of generating a megawatt-hour of power in a traditional coal plant is around $100, while it’s around $261 for solar thermal power. Environmentalists also worry that the amount of land needed to accommodate solar farms may negatively affect animals and plants that reside there. In the case of Ivanpah, coyotes, tortoises and plants like milkweed are indigenous to the area. Ivanpah had to go through years of regulatory and legal battles concerning environmental concerns before its opening”.[3]  On the website pertaining to the company NRG, we can read that the ‘solar energy harnessed from Ivanpah’s Units 1 and 3 are being sold to Pacific Gas & Electric under two long-term power purchase agreements, while the electricity from Unit 2 is being sold to Southern California Edison under a similar contract . . . The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is the largest of 11 operational utility-scale solar facilities in three states in which NRG has ownership interest. Ivanpah is also one of several NRG assets that are subject to a Right of First Offer Agreement between NRG and its publicly owned subsidiary, NRG Yield, Inc. . . NRG is leading a customer-driven change in the U.S. energy industry by delivering cleaner and smarter energy choices, while building on the strength of the nation’s largest and most diverse competitive power portfolio. A Fortune 500 company, we create value through reliable and efficient conventional generation while driving innovation in solar and renewable power, electric vehicle ecosystems, carbon capture technology and customer-centric energy solutions. Our retail electricity providers – Reliant, Green Mountain Energy, Energy Plus and NRG Residential Solutions – serve millions of residential and commercial customers throughout the country’.[4]

‘View a collection of clips from Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System featuring segments from President Obama, President Clinton, Governor Schwarzenegger, construction footage, mitigation practices and Family Day’.

21 September 2013

[1] Tiffany Kaiser, “Largest Solar Thermal Plant “Ivanpah” Goes Live Commercially” DailyTech (13 Feb 2014). http://www.dailytech.com/Largest+Solar+Thermal+Plant+Ivanpah+Goes+Live+Commercially/article34333.htm.

[2] Tiffany Kaiser, “Largest Solar Thermal Plant “Ivanpah” Goes Live Commercially”.

[3] Tiffany Kaiser, “Largest Solar Thermal Plant “Ivanpah” Goes Live Commercially”.

[4] “World’s Largest Solar Thermal Power Project at Ivanpah Achieves Commercial Operation” NRG (13 Feb 2014). http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=121544&p=irol-newsArticleNRG&ID=1899656.

Talk to Al Jazeera: Erdoğan — Turkey’s role in the Middle East

‘The Turkish prime minister shares his views on the war in Syria, the coup in Egypt and relations with Israel and Iran (12 Feb 2014)’.

Topsy-Turvy World: Iranian Warships in American Waters

The Arab broadcaster Al Arabiya reports that “Iran for the first time has sent several warships to the Atlantic Ocean, close to U.S. maritime borders, the Associated Press reported a senior Iranian naval commander as saying Saturday [, 8 February 2014]. The vessels have already begun the journey to the Atlantic Ocean via waters near South Africa, the commander of Iran’s Northern Navy Fleet, Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad, is quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying. Iranian officials said last month that the fleet consisted of a destroyer and a logistic helicopter carrier, which will be on a three-month mission. According to Haddad, the fleet is approaching U.S. maritime borders for the first time. Some say the fleet is the Islamic Republic’s response to U.S. naval deployments near its own coastlines The U.S. Navy’s 5th fleet is based in nearby Bahrain”.[1]

The Arab broadcaster continues that the “London-based researcher Mohr Dad Khonsari at The Centre for Arab and Iranian Studies told Al Arabiya News whether Iran’s ties with the West were “good” or “bad,” the Islamic republic can legally send its ships to international water bodies. Khonsari said it “it is not a provocation,” but on the contrary, U.S. sending its fleet in the Gulf region could be considered as such. “I don’t attach any reason for [sending the ships] that . . . need to be justified,” he said”.[2]

[1] “Iran sends warships close to U.S. borders ” Al Arabiya (08 Feb 2014). http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2014/02/09/Iran-sends-warships-close-to-U-S-borders-.html.

[2] “Iran sends warships close to U.S. borders “.

Election Fever in Afghanistan: Exit Hamid Karzai

‘In Afghanistan eleven candidates are vying to win the next Presidency. Campaigning is now officially underway with posters and billboards up all around the country. The candidates have two months to win over the voters. Six thousand eight hundred polling booths are expected to open. Election day is 5 April (3 Feb 2014)’.

In the Guardian, Emma Graham-Harrison writes that the upcoming “election is the third presidential poll since the fall of the Taliban. It should pave the way for the country’s first-ever peaceful democratic transfer of power, because the constitution bars the incumbent, Hamid Karzai, from standing again. The fact that Afghanistan has never managed such a handover before is an indication of how fraught the process could be, even without the complication of a raging insurgency. Karzai has led the country since the fall of the Taliban. Initially he was appointed by a national assembly, but he went on to win two elections in his own right. The arrival of a new president after more than a decade will shake up the country’s tiny elite, although the shifts may not be dramatic if the winning candidate is Karzai’s brother or a close ally. Whoever wins, Karzai will still be living just a stone’s throw from the presidential palace, in a property requisitioned from the United Nations and currently under renovation. He is not expected to fade into retirement. The country’s last king was deposed in the early 1970s and only one of the men to lead the country since then has met a natural end. The macabre track record means Karzai will be keen to ensure the elections produce a successor who will not only respect him, but keep him alive. He has reportedly rejected the idea of disappearing to a quiet and luxurious exile, even though he would almost certainly find sponsors. Karzai is not the only fixture about to vanish from the Afghan political scene. Foreign troops, which have dominated life and politics for over a decade, will also be gone by the start of 2015. The new president will have to rely only on his own police and army to keep the Taliban at bay. If Karzai decides to sign a long-term security deal with the US, there will be a few thousand foreign soldiers still training the Afghan security forces and hunting international militants in the most lawless parts of the country. He is currently demanding further concessions from the US, and some diplomats have concluded he will not sign the deal. If he doesn’t, the future of relations between Afghanistan and the international community that pays for its government and army will hang on the election. Without the military deal, funding will probably be limited; the US has already halved its aid budget this year. And the collapse of the Soviet-backed government in 1992 was precipitated not by the departure of Soviet troops three years earlier but the abrupt halt funds that paid the army’s salaries”.[1]

Graham-Harrison adds that “[e]leven candidates, 12 million voters, more than 6,000 polling centres – and a lot of headaches for the victor. But who are the men who would be Afghan president and what do they offer? . . . Abdullah Abdullah . . . Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai . . . Qayoum Karzai . . . Nader Naim . . . Zalmay Rassoul . . . Gul Agha Sherzai . . . [will be competing for the post] The election is in two rounds, similar to the French system. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote in the first round – which with 11 candidates is unlikely, unless someone reverts to massive fraud – a second round must be held pitting the top two candidates against each other. That means that although the poll is set for 5 April, the process could drag on for months. Getting the ballot papers back from far-flung stations and handling complaints is expected to take weeks, with a final result not due until mid-May. A second round would take at least six weeks more, probably longer. So even though the president, Hamid Karzai, is officially due to step down in May, many observers think the country will not get a new leader until July or August at the earliest. The election is run by the Independent Election Commission (IEC). Any grievances are handled by the Electoral Complaints Commission, which has already thrown out more than half the would-be presidential candidates for not meeting requirements”.[2]

[1] Emma Graham-Harrison, “Afghanistan election guide: everything you need to know” The Guardian (03 Feb 2014). http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/03/afghanistan-election-guide-candidates-list,

[2] Emma Graham-Harrison, “Afghanistan election guide: everything you need to know”.

EU Report: Corruption Widespread in the Bloc

‘The first ever European Commission report on corruption has exposed fraud, bribery and graft on what it describes as a “breathtaking” scale. The headline figure is an astonishing $160 billion. That’s the cost to the European economy every year (3 Feb 2014)’.

The EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem, who presented the report, wrote in Sweden’s Goeteborgs-Posten daily that “[t]he extent of the problem in Europe is breathtaking, although Sweden is among the countries with the least problems”.[1]

The EU ANTI-CORRUPTION REPORT itself starts off as follows: “Corruption seriously harms the economy and society as a whole. Many countries around the world suffer from deep-rooted corruption that hampers economic development, undermines democracy, and damages social justice and the rule of law. The Member States of the EU are not immune to this reality. Corruption varies in nature and extent from one country to another, but it affects all Member States. It impinges on good governance, sound management of public money, and competitive markets. In extreme cases, it undermines the trust of citizens in democratic institutions and processes. This Report provides an analysis of corruption within the EU’s Member States and of the steps taken to prevent and fight it. It aims to launch a debate involving the Commission, Member States, the European Parliament and other stakeholders, to assist the anti-corruption work and to identify ways in which the European dimension can help”.[2]  Under the heading “The wider policy context“, the report states that the “financial crisis has put additional pressure on Europeans and their governments. In the face of the current economic challenges both in Europe and elsewhere, stronger guarantees of integrity and transparency of public expenditure are required. Citizens expect the EU to play an important role in helping Member States to protect the licit economy against organised crime, financial and tax fraud, money laundering and corruption, not least in times of economic crisis and budgetary austerity. Corruption alone is estimated to cost the EU economy EUR 120 billion per year, just a little less than the annual budget of the European Union. Europe 2020 is the EU’s growth strategy over the present decade to foster a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy, thus helping the EU and its Member States to deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. Research suggests that the success of the Europe 2020 strategy also depends on institutional factors such as good governance, rule of law, and control of corruption. Fighting corruption contributes to the EU’s competitiveness in the global economy. In that context, anti-corruption measures have been highlighted with respect to a number of Member States as part of the European Semester – a yearly cycle of economic policy coordination involving a detailed analysis of Member States’ programmes for economic and structural reform as well as country-specific recommendations. More generally, improving the efficiency of public administration, especially if combined with greater transparency, can help mitigate corruption-related risks. The Commission Communication for a European Industrial Renaissance of January 2014 therefore places emphasis on quality public administration as an important aspect of the EU’s growth strategy”.[3]  Getting down to the nitty-gritty, the REPORT states that “[a]round three quarters of Europeans (73 %) say that bribery and the use of connections is often the easiest way of obtaining certain public services in their country. This belief is most widespread in Greece (93 %), Cyprus (92 %), Slovakia and Croatia (89 % in each). Similarly to 2011, around two in three Europeans (67 %) think the financing of political parties is not sufficiently transparent and supervised. Most likely to hold that view are respondents from Spain (87 %), Greece (86 %), and the Czech Republic (81 %), while those least likely to hold this view are respondents from Denmark (47 %), the UK (54 %), Sweden (55 %) and Finland (56 %). Just under a quarter of Europeans (23 %) agree that their Government’s efforts are effective in tackling corruption; around a quarter (26 %) think that there are enough successful prosecutions in their country to deter people from corrupt practices”.[4]

[1] “Corruption across EU ‘breathtaking’ – EU Commission” BBC News (03 Feb 2014). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26014387.