KN4M 4th of July
- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
July 1, 2007
Moving Beyond Kyoto
By AL GORE
WE the human species have arrived at a moment of decision. It is
unprecedented and even laughable for us to imagine that we could
actually make a conscious choice as a species, but that is
nevertheless the challenge that is before us.
Our home Earth is in danger. What is at risk of being destroyed
is not the planet itself, but the conditions that have made it
hospitable for human beings.
Without realizing the consequences of our actions, we have begun to
put so much carbon dioxide into the thin shell of air surrounding
our world that we have literally changed the heat balance between
Earth and the Sun. If we don't stop doing this pretty quickly, the
average temperature will increase to levels humans have never known
and put an end to the favorable climate balance on which our
In the last 150 years, in an accelerating frenzy, we have been
removing increasing quantities of carbon from the ground mainly in
the form of coal and oil and burning it in ways that dump 70
million tons of CO2 every 24 hours into the Earth's atmosphere.
The concentrations of CO2 having never risen above 300 parts per
million for at least a million years have been driven from 280
parts per million at the beginning of the coal boom to 383 parts per
million this year.
As a direct result, many scientists are now warning that we are
moving closer to several "tipping points" that could within 10
years make it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable damage to
the planet's habitability for human civilization.
Just in the last few months, new studies have shown that the north
polar ice cap which helps the planet cool itself is melting
nearly three times faster than the most pessimistic computer models
predicted. Unless we take action, summer ice could be completely
gone in as little as 35 years. Similarly, at the other end of the
planet, near the South Pole, scientists have found new evidence of
snow melting in West Antarctica across an area as large as
This is not a political issue. This is a moral issue, one that
affects the survival of human civilization. It is not a question of
left versus right; it is a question of right versus wrong. Put
simply, it is wrong to destroy the habitability of our planet and
ruin the prospects of every generation that follows ours.
On Sept. 21, 1987, President Ronald Reagan said, "In our obsession
with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all
the members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal
threat to recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how
quickly our differences would vanish if we were facing an alien
threat from outside this world."
We all of us now face a universal threat. Though it is not from
outside this world, it is nevertheless cosmic in scale.
Consider this tale of two planets. Earth and Venus are almost
exactly the same size, and have almost exactly the same amount of
carbon. The difference is that most of the carbon on Earth is in the
ground having been deposited there by various forms of life over
the last 600 million years and most of the carbon on Venus is in
As a result, while the average temperature on Earth is a pleasant 59
degrees, the average temperature on Venus is 867 degrees. True,
Venus is closer to the Sun than we are, but the fault is not in our
star; Venus is three times hotter on average than Mercury, which is
right next to the Sun. It's the carbon dioxide.
This threat also requires us, in Reagan's phrase, to unite in
recognition of our common bond.
Next Saturday, on all seven continents, the Live Earth concert will
ask for the attention of humankind to begin a three-year campaign to
make everyone on our planet aware of how we can solve the climate
crisis in time to avoid catastrophe. Individuals must be a part of
the solution. In the words of Buckminster Fuller, "If the success or
failure of this planet, and of human beings, depended on how I am
and what I do, how would I be? What would I do?"
Live Earth will offer an answer to this question by asking everyone
who attends or listens to the concerts to sign a personal pledge to
take specific steps to combat climate change. (More details about
the pledge are available at algore.com.)
But individual action will also have to shape and drive government
action. Here Americans have a special responsibility. Throughout
most of our short history, the United States and the American people
have provided moral leadership for the world. Establishing the Bill
of Rights, framing democracy in the Constitution, defeating fascism
in World War II, toppling Communism and landing on the moon all
were the result of American leadership.
Once again, Americans must come together and direct our government
to take on a global challenge. American leadership is a precondition
To this end, we should demand that the United States join an
international treaty within the next two years that cuts global
warming pollution by 90 percent in developed countries and by more
than half worldwide in time for the next generation to inherit a
This treaty would mark a new effort. I am proud of my role during
the Clinton administration in negotiating the Kyoto protocol. But I
believe that the protocol has been so demonized in the United States
that it probably cannot be ratified here much in the way the
Carter administration was prevented from winning ratification of an
expanded strategic arms limitation treaty in 1979. Moreover, the
negotiations will soon begin on a tougher climate treaty.
Therefore, just as President Reagan renamed and modified the SALT
agreement (calling it Start), after belatedly recognizing the need
for it, our next president must immediately focus on quickly
concluding a new and even tougher climate change pact. We should aim
to complete this global treaty by the end of 2009 and not wait
until 2012 as currently planned.
If by the beginning of 2009, the United States already has in place
a domestic regime to reduce global warming pollution, I have no
doubt that when we give industry a goal and the tools and
flexibility to sharply reduce carbon emissions, we can complete and
ratify a new treaty quickly. It is, after all, a planetary emergency.
A new treaty will still have differentiated commitments, of course;
countries will be asked to meet different requirements based upon
their historical share or contribution to the problem and their
relative ability to carry the burden of change. This precedent is
well established in international law, and there is no other way to
There are some who will try to pervert this precedent and use
xenophobia or nativist arguments to say that every country should be
held to the same standard. But should countries with one-fifth our
gross domestic product countries that contributed almost nothing
in the past to the creation of this crisis really carry the same
load as the United States? Are we so scared of this challenge that
we cannot lead?
Our children have a right to hold us to a higher standard when their
future indeed, the future of all human civilization is hanging
in the balance. They deserve better than a government that censors
the best scientific evidence and harasses honest scientists who try
to warn us about looming catastrophe. They deserve better than
politicians who sit on their hands and do nothing to confront the
greatest challenge that humankind has ever faced even as the
danger bears down on us.
We should focus instead on the opportunities that are part of this
challenge. Certainly, there will be new jobs and new profits as
corporations move aggressively to capture the enormous economic
opportunities offered by a clean energy future.
But there's something even more precious to be gained if we do the
right thing. The climate crisis offers us the chance to experience
what few generations in history have had the privilege of
experiencing: a generational mission; a compelling moral purpose; a
shared cause; and the thrill of being forced by circumstances to put
aside the pettiness and conflict of politics and to embrace a
genuine moral and spiritual challenge.
Al Gore, vice president from 1993 to 2001, is the chairman of the
Alliance for Climate Protection. He is the author, most recently,
of "The Assault on Reason."
From The Sunday Times
June 1, 2007
Dead `Mossad spy' was writing exposé
After mysteriously falling from a London balcony, Ashraf Marwan was
found to be halfway through an expose of his life
Uzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv
AN Egyptian millionaire who mysteriously fell to his death from the
balcony of his London flat after being named as a Mossad spy was
writing a book that threatened to expose the murky world of Arab-
Ashraf Marwan, the son-in-law of the late President Gamal Abdel
Nasser of Egypt, was more than halfway through a book about the 1973
Yom Kippur war - in which he is alleged to have played a key
intelligence role - when his body was discovered last week.
Marwan's death, which police are treating as "unexplained", has sent
ripples across the Middle East and shocked some of Britain's
The 62-year-old financier was a former shareholder of Chelsea
football club and counted Ken Bates, its former chairman, Adnan
Khashoggi, the Saudi arms dealer, and Tiny Rowland, the late
business tycoon, among his acquaintances.
But it was Marwan's espionage activities that have surrounded his
death with intrigue. Israeli intelligence sources claimed this
weekend that he had been one of the greatest spies recruited by
They said Marwan had supplied the Israeli secret service with a
treasure trove of information, including the secret plans drawn up
by Egypt's leaders to cross the Suez Canal and attack Israel in
Ahron Bregman, an Israeli historian at King's College London,
however, believes Marwan was a double agent who misled the Israelis
over Egypt's plans for the war. This weekend Bregman said the
Egyptian had left three messages on his answerphone last Tuesday,
urgently asking him to make contact.
"I was out, but eventually spoke to him at around 4pm," said
Bregman. "He asked me about the recent libel case in Israel."
The case involved two former Israeli intelligence officers, one of
whom had accused the other of leaking Marwan's name as a spy.
Bregman said Marwan had described the court case as "a headache" and
asked to meet him at King's College the following day.
"It was very clear that we were going to meet, but there was no call
on Wednesday and I heard later in the day that he had died," said
Bregman, who claimed in an Egyptian newspaper article in 2003 that
Marwan had been a double agent. "He told me never to send anything
to his address because it was watched. He was always very cautious
and never referred to himself by name."
Marwan fell four floors to his death from his flat at Carlton House
Terrace overlooking St James's Park. Police are exploring three
possibilities: that he was murdered, that he jumped - although no
suicide note has been found - or that he fell.
One possibility is that Marwan was taking medicinal drugs that made
him faint. He had had three heart operations, according to a friend,
Marwan, lived with his wife at the London flat where he died, was
writing about the Yom Kippur war, in which he may have played a key
intelligence role, and "had been very unwell".
Other friends believe that he feared being assassinated after
being "outed" as a Mossad spy.
The son of an Egyptian general, Marwan studied at Cairo university
where he met Mona, Nasser's daughter. He was 21 and she was 17. The
couple married a year later and went on to have two sons, Gamal and
Marwan was soon leading a double life. In 1969, according to Israeli
sources, he slipped into the Israeli embassy in London and - before
being ejected - told a security guard: "Send my name to Tel Aviv.
They'll know who I am. I'll be back in a week's time."
A week later one of Mossad's most senior controllers - known by the
initial D - flew to Britain and lavished five-star hospitality on
Marwan. It was the start of a 30-year relationship that saw highly
classified information, including the minutes of meetings between
Anwar Sadat, the Egyptian president, and other world leaders
regularly passing into Mossad's hands.
"It's as if we were sleeping in the bedroom of the Egyptian
presidential couple," recalled an Israeli source.
Marwan, who worked in Sadat's office, made only two conditions in
return for his services: he was to be paid £50,000 for each
significant meeting he had with his Israeli handlers and he insisted
that D was to be his sole controller.
Before long Marwan's raw intelligence became essential reading for
Golda Meir, the Israeli prime minister, and Moshe Dayan, her defence
minister. "When information arrived from Marwan it was sent directly
to the leaders," said an insider. "It was better than any John le
Carre espionage thriller."
By 1972 Marwan was a millionaire and had revealed details to Mossad
about secret arms deals between Egypt and the Soviet Union,
according to Israeli sources.
But the best was yet to come. Marwan invited D to a meeting in
London at which he handed his controller a suitcase full of
documents outlining Egypt's plans to cross Suez and attack Israel.
Intelligence sources claim that overconfident Israeli military
chiefs ignored the plans and they were left to sit in a safe in Tel
In September 1973 King Hussein of Jordan tipped off Meir that Syria
was also about to launch an attack. Meir sought Marwan's advice.
But Marwan could not be reached. Finally, only 24 hours before the
outbreak of war, a message was intercepted in the Mossad HQ in Tel
Aviv: "Meet me tomorrow in London."
Marwan managed to leave Sadat's side by convincing the Egyptian
president that he should travel to Libya to warn Colonel Gadaffi
about the imminent conflict. From Tripoli, he flew to Malta and on
Mossad stopped El-Al's last flight to London as it prepared for take-
off. The Boeing 707 waited on the tarmac for more than 30 minutes.
Passengers saw a car speeding towards the aircraft and two fair-
haired men climbed in. They were Zvi Zamir, the head of Mossad, and
D, Marwan's controller.
According to Israeli sources, Zamir rang Tel Aviv in the early hours
of the morning and told colleagues: "Call Golda [Meir]. It's today
at 6pm, both Syria and Egypt."
Marwan's tardiness raised suspicions that he was a double agent but
he was exonerated by Mossad. In Egypt Marwan remained a hero and was
decorated by Sadat before moving to London, where he became active
in the business world.
Meanwhile, in Tel Aviv, Marwan's former controller, D, received the
news of his death with sadness. With Marwan's book unfinished,
perhaps the motives for his secret life will never be fully
From Times Online
July 1, 2007
Europe set to lift ban on GM crops
The European commission is about to give the go-ahead to the first
commercially grown genetically modified crops since a public outcry
nine years ago halted their cultivation, writes Jonathan Leake.
The commission has begun the final approval stages for at least four
applications by biotech companies to let farmers grow GM potatoes
and maize in British and European fields.
The first crop is expected to be given the go-ahead by the end of
this month. "We hope that it will have been approved . . . so that
it will be ready for planting next year," said a spokesman for BASF,
the German company that created the potato.
Such a move could reignite the pan-European backlash against GM
crops of the late 1990s, which forced the European Union to impose
an effective moratorium on the crops in 1998.
Since then no crops have been approved for cultivation, although
permission has been given to import some varieties for animal feed.
However, it has now emerged that dossiers on another three crops,
all modified forms of maize, are being prepared by the commission,
which will recommend they be approved for cultivation.
They could be given the green light in time for next year's planting
season. Applications for other crops, including rapeseed, are in the
The acceleration of the process for approving GM crops follows
mounting pressure from the American government. It has accused the
EU of blocking free trade and threatened to take Europe to the World
A commission spokesman said: "All the crops being recommended for
approval have been scientifically assessed by the European Food
Safety Authority. If the science supports the application we have no
grounds for rejecting it."
The GM potato produced by BASF has novel mixtures of starch and
would be grown purely for industrial uses such as making paper, not
Most of the other GM crops under consideration by the commission
are, however, designed for food or animal feed and are not very
different to those that sparked the original consumer backlash.
Leaders map out African Union overhaul
by Chris Otton
Sun Jul 1, 2007
Leaders of the African Union began mapping out plans to forge a
closer federation of states at a summit in Ghana Sunday,
acknowledging the continent's current system of governance had to
Fifty years after it became the first African nation to free itself
from colonialism, Ghana was the venue of an AU meeting devoted to
working out how the world's poorest continent can gain strength
Ghana's President John Kufuor and AU commission chairman Alpha Oumar
Konare both told heads of state they can fulfill the vision of
Ghana's founding father Kwame Nkrumah who saw a unified Africa as an
unstoppable force for good.
"The question of unification is not in doubt.... What remains is the
form of government and how and when to attain it," said Kufuor.
"I am confident that at the end of our deliberations, we should be
able to arrive at a common understanding on the sort of continental
government we want for ourselves, and a roadmap with timelines on
its realisation," he added.
The three-day summit has been billed by some as an opportunity to
forge a so-called United States of Africa, with Libya's President
Moamer Kadhafi at the forefront of the pressure, urging a common
defence and foreign policy.
Other leaders however such as South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki
are far cooler towards that and want the AU to be given time to
build up its own institutions given it was only formed five years at
a summit in Durban.
Kufuor said the AU needed "structural improvements and nurturing"
while Konare told the leaders there was "a real need for change, for
transformation" of institutions which were still struggling to carve
out a clear role.
"The African Union Commission which should be the engine for the
union does not have a well-defined status and character," he said.
"We need to have a strong decision today because integration is a
major political action."
In his speech, Konare acknowledged some of the crises still
confronting the AU, including the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region
and civil war in Somalia.
The AU's shortcomings were underlined at the last summit in Ethiopia
in January when it failed to persuade any nation but Uganda to send
troops on a peacekeeping mission to Somalia.
Events in Addis Ababa were also marred by the continued bloodshed in
Darfur which effectively scuppered Khartoum's ambitions of becoming
president of the organisation.
A force of some 7,000 AU troops has been unable to stop the carnage
in Darfur and is now desperate to be bolstered by troops from the
Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir, who is skipping the summit
following the death of a close advisor in a car crash, went on a
public relations offensive before it opened, accusing the West of
hyping the crisis in Darfur because of its interest in his country's
However Konare said it was time for Sudan to finally accept the
presence of blue-helmet troops on its soil as part of a joint AU-UN
force Beshir has agreed to in principle and backed a UN resolution
to ensure its deployment.
"We have made progress (on Darfur) because Sudan has accepted the
hybrid force," he said.
"Now we need to implement it, persuade our Sudanese brothers to
implement it. What is lacking today is a UN resolution and fresh
resources to deploy our troops on the ground."
Following the opening speeches, leaders then went into a closed door
session to discuss the plans for closer union.
For all the talk of the need for greater unity, analysts believe a
general strengthening of the AU commission, including increased
funding, is the most likely outcome.
"The most unlikely scenario is the immediate creation of a United
States of Africa," said Delphine Lecoutre, an analyst at the
Institute of Strategic Studies in South Africa.
"That's a very long-term ultimate objective that the AU has only put
its name to in order to calm Kadhafi down."
Ghanaian government sources said Kadhafi was absent from the opening
ceremony after being refused permission to address his peers.