'it's okay to eat fish, cause they don't have any feelings.' so sang kurt cobain.
a study by queens university in belfast, ireland finds that shellfish do feel pain
. jennifer viegas (discovery) notes
Researchers have suspected for some time that live lobsters dunked into
boiling water and rubber-banded crustaceans stored in crowded fish
market tanks experience tremendous pain. We reported on that some years back. But it’s always a challenge for scientists to prove conclusively that a non-human is feeling pain.
so there you go.
i guess we'll feel what the shell fish do as a result of global warming.
as our world is no longer able to support us, as global warming really sets in, it will be like we're boiling ourselves and when we finally realize that, it'll be too late.
wasn't that always the point of gore vidal's boiling frogs analogy?
but he didn't apply it to the environment.
now we know gore was speaking the truth (he often did) but he wasn't speaking metaphorically.
let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'
January 17, 2013. Chaos and violence continue, protests continue,
UNAMI condems violence for the third day in a row, Nouri's focused on
the Kurds, Turkey worries what Iraq's sliding into, burn pits, and more.
In yesterday's snapshot
, we noted the development regarding burn pits. The Veterans Administration explains:
On Jan. 10, 2013, President Obama signed a new law
(218 KB, PDF) requiring VA to establish a burn pits registry for
Veterans who may have been exposed to burn pits in Iraq or Afghanistan.
VA will announce how to sign up once the registry is available.
new registry will enhance VA's ability to monitor the effects of
exposure and keep Veterans informed about studies and treatments.
Brook University in Stony Brook, New York is gearing up to host a
symposium on the issue. This will be their second one, their 2nd Annual
Scientific Symposium on Lung Health after Deployment to Iraq &
Afghanistan. The symposium will take place March 4th which isn't that
far away. If you'd like to register to attend, you can click here
for the registration info if you're doing it by mail or by fax as well as a registration link if you'd like to register online.
Rosie Lopez-Torres is the executive director of BurnPits 360
Her husband is Iraq War veteran Captain Leroy Torres who left the US in
strong health and had it destroyed by burn pits in Iraq. Burn Pit 360
(and the Torres family) have worked very hard on lobbying for a National
Registry. In fact, it's their first listed goal.
maintain a National Registry that will allow the individuals affected
to self report their data online. To identify the need for a
longitudinal study, to prove a medical, scientific, and legal
correlation between the toxic chemicals detected and the individuals
Establish an alliance of veteran service organizations, health care
providers, legislators, and government organizations to allow for the
strategic development of a quality specialized health care model
specific to toxic environmental exposures that will provide a lifetime
continuum of care.
Facilitate resources to thousands of Reservists, Service Members,
Veterans, and their Families through outreach initiatives encompassed
around linking the services requested on the registry to services
available within their community.
Pit 360 is among the groups that can look with satisfaction at the Burn
Pit Registry becoming a reality because they worked very hard to help
matke that happen.
Yesterday's snapshot also applauded Senator Mark Udall of Colorado and had a press release from his office. I AM AN IDIOT.
That was Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico. (The Senators Udall are
cousins -- that does not excuse my mistake, but is offered in case
anyone's wondering about two senators with the same last name.) My
apologies for my very stupid error and we'll repost the press release
from Senator Tom Udall's office:
- U.S. Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) announced that
today President Obama signed their bill to establish a registry of
service members and veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals and
fumes from open-air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan into law.
we celebrate the conclusion of our bipartisan effort to improve the
health and well-being of our veterans," Udall said, "This is a victory
for our men and women in uniform across the globe, and I am proud to say
it was made possible by the strong advocacy of Master Sergeant Jessey
and Maria Baca of New Mexico," Udall said. "Just as our veterans have
answered the call of duty for our country, we have answered their call
for better information and today brings us closer to insuring this
special population receives the care and treatment they deserve."
and Corker's Burn Pits Registry Act was included as part of a larger
veterans package, S. 3202, the "Dignified Burial and Veterans'
Benefits Improvement Act of 2012," which passed the Senate and House in
late December 2012.
The bill will create a registry similar to
the Agent Orange and Gulf War registries to help patients, doctors and
the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) determine to what extent
air pollution caused by open air burn pits has led to medical diseases
among service members.
In 2011, Udall and Corker introduced S,
1798, the Burn Pits Registry Act, with cosponsors Sens. Jeff Bingaman
(D-N.M.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Lamar
Alexander (R-Tenn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.).
five members of New Mexico's congressional delegation also supported
the measure in both the Senate and House of Representatives.
began work on this legislation after meeting MSgt Jessey Baca and his
wife Maria of Albuquerque, who detailed Jessey's battle with cancer,
chronic bronchiolitis, chemical induced asthma, brain lesions, TBI, PTSD
and numerous other ailments believed to have been caused by exposure to
burn pits in Iraq.
Earlier this year, Udall testified before a
Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on the legislation and
mentioned the work of the Bacas, who had traveled from New Mexico to
attend the hearing. Video of the Senator Udall testifying before the
Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee is available here and a photo of Udall with the Bacas here.
early as 2002, U.S. military installations in Afghanistan and Iraq
began to rely on open-air burn pits to dispose of waste materials. The
U.S. Department of Defense and numerous contractors made frequent use
of burn pits at a number of bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Department of the Army, Department of the Air Force and the American
Lung Association have confirmed the dangers posed by burn pits, and
veterans and their families have reached out to Congress for action.
a burn pits registry was supported by numerous groups, including Burn
Pits 360, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Association of the U.S. Navy,
Retired Enlisted Association, the Uniformed Services Disabled Retirees
and the National Military Family Association.
Summary of the Open Burn Pits Registry:
- Establish and maintain an open burn pit registry for those individuals who may have been exposed during their military service;
information in this registry that the Secretary of the VA determines
applicable to possible health effects of this exposure;
- Develop a public information campaign to inform individuals about the registry; and
- Periodically notify members of the registry of significant developments associated with burn pit exposure.
Timeline of the Open Burn Pits Registry:
- November 3, 2011: Udall, Corker & six co-sponsors introduce S. 1798, the Open Burn Pits Registry Act.
- June 13, 2012: Udall testifies before the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee in support of the Act.
12, 2012: The Act is included in a larger veterans package, S. 3340,
the Mental Health Access to Continued Care and Enhancement of Support
Services bill, which the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee passes
- December 19, 2012: The Act is
included in an alternative veterans package, S. 3202, the "Dignified
Burial and Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 2012, which passes the
full Senate unanimously.
- December 30, 2012: The U.S. House of Representatives passes S. 3202 unanimously.
- January 10, 2013: President Obama signs S. 3202, which includes the Open Burn Pits Registry Act language.
Again, Senator Tom Udall. That was my huge mistake. My apologies.
Iraq is yet again slammed with violence today in what has already been a very violent month. Iraq Body Count
counts 165 people dead from violence in Iraq this month through
Wednesday. 165 killed in 16 days which is a little over 10 deaths every
day. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) counts
at least 26 dead while Press TV points out
latest wave of violence comes only a day after 40 people were killed
and over 200 others wounded in a spate of terrorist attacks across the
" The Washington Post
's Liz Sly offered this pespective in a Tweet.
BBC News notes
4 dead in a Hilla bombing. Alsumaria adds
that seven were injured and they note the bombing as Babel. (It's the
same area and dependent upon whether you're using the Babylon
reference.) Following the bombing, Alsumaria reports
, protesters gathered outside the police station and demanded the resignation of the police director. Ahlul Bayt News Agency notes
a Karbala car bombing that claimed the lives of 4 Shi'ite pilgrims with another twelve injured. Lu Hui (Xinhua) reports
that7 people are dead and over 25 injured as a result of 2 car bombings
in al-Dujail (Salahuddin Province) with the first bomb allegedly being
used to attract a crowd in the immediate aftermath and the second bomb
going off after the crowd was present attempting to provide aid. AP notes
that the death toll from those two car bombings has already risen to 11 and that the injured now stands at sixty. The UK Express reports
a Qassim car bombing which claimed 5 lives and left twenty injured and a
Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed 2 lives and left two people
and today all found the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) issuing statements condemening the mass violence. UPI notes
today the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler
stated, "I am particularly alarmed that attacks in disputed internal
areas further aggravate the tensions there." And he's not the only one
expressing alarm. Kitabat reports
that Kurdistan Regional Government's President Massoud Barzani has
declared he fears that Iraq is edging ever closer to a civil war. In
addition, the KRG website notes
that he met with KRG opposition party leaders in Erbil today to discuss
the various crises and how to maintain untiy as a nation. The KRG is a
semi-autonomous region of Iraq. Hurriyet Daily News notes
Turkey is also concerned with the violence and quotes the Turkish
Foreign Ministry stating, "We fiercely condemn terror attacks on
different targets, including the bureaus of the KDP and KYB."
a century, there has not been a single generation of Iraqis unfamiliar
with struggle. Yet, this last decade has undoubtedly been the worst Iraq
has ever experienced. No one in Iraq has not suffered loss. The widows,
orphans, and survivors carry on through grief and trauma. During these
bleak days, it would be understandable if Iraqis chose to give up,
accept the inadequate government that has been imposed on them, and
focus on getting through the day. It would be understandable of any
people who have suffered as they have.
Iraqis have chosen to fight for better days. This choice, to commit
such energy, day after day, for 21 days, to put their bodies on the line
in protest against injustices, after they have experienced so much loss, grief, and trauma is, well, inspiring.
There have been sporadic protests throughout Iraq ever since the Arab spring began in 2010. But Iraqi government forces, trained and armed by the US, have violently suppressed them, sometimes firing into unarmed crowds. Thus, large-scale protests, like those we saw in Egypt and Tunisia, never got off the ground in Iraq.
These recent protests, however, are unique in their size and character. They focus on the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki,
accusing him of corruption, brutal repression, and sectarianism.
Maliki's regime has military support from the US, and thus the
protesters consider it the "second face" of the occupation.
that MP Jawad Alshahyla (with Moqtada al-Sadr's parliamentary bloc)
states that he believes they are getting close to voting on limiting the
three presidencies to two terms. The three presidencies are the
President of Iraq, the Prime Minister of Iraq and the Speaker of the
Parliament. The Constitution already limits the President of Iraq to two
terms. The concern here is Nouri al-Maliki who swore in February 2011
that he would not seek a third term but quickly pulled that promise.
Iraq may not survive two full terms of Nouri. A third is very
frightening. He is Little Saddam. The editorial board of Lebanon's Daily Star points out
While Iraq's security situation deteriorates, it is being led by an administration that has a mini-Saddam Hussein in the making, a state of affairs which is so far dangerously unchecked.
Yet this regime is little more than a puppet for its bigger neighbor, Iran. And if Iran is sanctioning the current path Maliki is set on, then it is shooting itself in the foot.
is already involved in events in Syria, while suffering from sanctions
and the consequences of being the region's black sheep. It is also
confronting its own internal challenges to power. It is therefore within
its own interests to rein in Maliki.
people of all sects have had enough. This is a country with colossal
potential wealth that should be spent on the welfare of its people.
Maliki and his leadership insist on continuing in the footsteps of
Saddam Hussein, it will be down to the political forces of both sides
who actually believe in the future of a unified Iraq to insist the
government change its approach and address national issues.
as this disaster builds, the US government continues to arm Nouri --
despite years of outcry and warning from KRG President Massoud Barzani.
The World Tribune notes
that Iraq just received their "sixth delivery of the Bell0497s [combat
helicopters] since 2010" and that "The U.S. Army has overseen the
delivery of the Bell-407 helicopter for the Iraqi Air Force."
Bell 407 integrates reliability, speed, performance, and
maneuverability with a cabin configurable for an array of missions and
payloads. Its Rolls Royce 250-C47B turbine FADEC engine delivers
exceptional hot & high performance with the ability to cruise at 140
knots (259 km/hr). The 407's spacious cabin seats up to five passengers
in wide-open club-passenger seating and can be reconfigured to
accommodate any number of tasks and payloads.
added passenger comfort, the Bell 407 also provides a very quiet and
smooth ride in virtually all weather conditions. In addition to offering
outstanding product features, the 407 is backed by Bell's renowned
in-service support, voted #1 by our customers for seventeen years
running. The Bell 407 is proof that you don't have to sacrifice comfort
Superb hot & high performance delivered by an 813 shp FADEC-controlled Rolls-Royce 250-C47B turbine engine
All-Composite four bladed main rotor system with "soft-in-plane" hub for excellent ride quality
features include a rupture resistant fuel system, engine exceedence
monitoring and a collective mounted throttle that keeps power at the
Seating capacity 1 + 6 (single pilot)
Supported by Bell Helicopter's #1 ranked Customer Support and Services
Those sound like interesting features but the military hardware? As Kenneth Kesner (Huntsville Times) explained
in November 2009, the US military is in charge of adding that
("electronics, sensors, guns, rockets, armor and more") to the
helicopters, "It will be the first time the Army has created and
designed an aircraft, integrating existing components to produce a
unique final product, said retired Brig. Gen. E.J. Sinclair, chief
operating officer of SES in Huntsville."
Barzani has called this out and asked the US government to stop
providing arms at present because they could be used on the Iraqi people
by Little Saddam in order for him to continue to hold on to power.
President Massoud Barzani: Iraq is facing a serious crisis today.
Yesterday, we have discussed that very frankly with the President, the
Vice President and it's going to one-man rule. It's going towards
control of all the establishments of state. So we have got a situation
or we ended up having a situation in Baghdad where one individual is the
Prime Minister and at the same time he's the commander-in-chief of the
armed forces, he's the Minister of Defense, he's the Minister of the
Interior and the Chief of the Intelligence and lately he has sent a
correspondence to the president of the Central Bank in Iraq that that
establishment would also come under the Prime Minister. Where in the
world would you find such an example?
could have made those remarks today. However, he made them April 4,
2012 while speaking at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy
(see the April 5th
and April 6th snapshots
). In addition to the protests in Iraq, the Yemen Post reports
that "hundreds" of Iraqis participated in a demonstration and sit-in
outside the Iraqi Embassy calling for the immediate resignation of Nouri
As violence slams Iraq repeatedly this week, All Iraq News notes
today that it is now one month since Iraqi President Jalal Talabani had
his stroke and that cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr issued a
statement wishing Talabani a speedy and full recovery. Late on the
evening of December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot
), President Jalal Talibani had a stroke and was admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital. Thursday, December 20th
, he was moved to Germany's Charite University Hospital. He remains in Germany currently. Al Mada reported
last week that Fuad Masum of the Kurdistan Alliance states he visited
with Jalal yesterday and that he is "steadily improving" that Jalal was
able to shake hands, that he listened and spoke -- and spoke to those in
the room in Kurdish, Arabic and English. Rightly or wrongly, there is a
feeling that were Jalal in Iraq and at full health, some of Nouri's
stunts this month would not be taking place.
Al Mada reports
that the religious authority in Najaf is calling for a change in the
governing of Iraq and is stating that if Nouri can change, great, if
not, he needs to be replaced. An unnamed source states that the
religious authoirty is calling for Nouri to agree not to seek a third
term, for him to implement the Erbil Agreement in full and for him to
stop manipulating the judiciary. The Erbil Agreement was a US brokered
contract. Eight months after his State of Law came in second in the
Parliamentary elections, Nouri refused to step aside creating what was
dubbed Political Stalemate. The Erbil Agreement -- which the US
government pushed and swore was a legally binding contract that they
would stand behind -- ended the stalemate by granting Nouri a second
term in exchange for certain trade offs. But Nouri used the contract to
get his second term and then trashed it, refusing to honor the promises
he'd made. Again, April 5, 2012, KRG President Masoud Barzani spoke of
Massoud Barzani: As far as the second part of your question, the Erbil
Agreement. In fact, the agreement was not only for the sake of forming
the government and forming the three presidencies -- the presidency, the
Speakership of Parliament and premier. In fact, it was a package -- a
package that included a number of essential items. First, to put in
place a general partnership in the country. Second, commitment to the
Constitution and its implementation, the issue of fedarlism, the return
of balance of power and especially in all the state institutions,the
establishment in [. . .] mainly in the armed forces and the security
forces, the hydrocarbons law, the Article 140 of the Constitution, the
status of the pesh merga. These were all part of the package that had
been there. Had this Erbil Agreement been implemented, we would not
have faced the situation that we are in today. Therefore, if we do
not implement the Erbil Agreement then there would certainly be problems
Nouri still hasn't held up his part of the bargain and now, Reuters reports
, he's looking to cause even more tensions between Baghdad and the KRG:
plans tough measures against the country's Kurdistan Regional
Government (KRG) region and foreign oil companies working there ,
including Turkey-based Genel Energy, to stop "illegal" crude exports in
an escalation of its standoff with the autonomous enclave, the oil
minister said in an interview on Jan.16.
Oil exports and contracts
are at the heart of a wider dispute over territory, oilfields and
political autonomy between the central govrenment in Baghdad and te
autonomous KRG in the north.
that Iraqi Minister of Oil Abdul Karim was bragging that he was about
to take strong measures against the KRG over their oil exports and other
The oil issue. As we've pointed
out before, Nouri signed a promise (with the White House) to pass an oil
and gas law back in 2007. It's never happened. That's not the Kurds
fault. Unless and until a new law comes into place that overrides the
current one, they are well within their rights to operate under existing
law. That is what they are doing. We'll note a healthy portion of a
press release on this topic that the KRG issued today but we don't have
space for the full press release. To read in full, it, click here
. Here's the press release (not in bold print because that's going to throw off our margins here at this site):
Kurdistan Regional Government is proud of the achievements of its oil
and gas industry since the fall of the former regime in 2003.
It expects the federal government of Iraq to be proud of them, too.
oil exports from the Region started in 2009, billions of dollars have
flowed into Iraq's treasury from fields in Kurdistan that have been
explored, discovered and developed under the KRG's modern, progressive
and investor-friendly petroleum regime.
All this has been achieved by attracting world-class companies to the Region with minimal financial risk to the Iraqi state.
would think that federal officials in Baghdad would embrace the
progress made in the Kurdistan Region and value the contribution to the
One would think that federal officials
would recognize the use of the Regions' natural gas to provide
electricity to its people and those of hard-pressed neighbouring
One would think that federal authorities would
applaud the KRGs plans to create a northern energy corridor for Iraq,
whereby up to 3 million barrels a day could soon be flowing through the
north of Iraq to Turkey and international markets beyond, and the
revenues are shared by all Iraqis.
It is disappointing,
therefore, to learn that the federal oil minister in Baghdad has taken
it upon himself to air to an international news agency a number of
hostile political opinions about the KRG and its prudent and
constitutionally sound management of the natural resources that lie
within the territory it administers.
In a series of ill-judged remarks to Reuters, the federal minister of oil:
- threatens to cut the KRG's share of the federal budget;
companies active in Kurdistan for pursuing their legal right under the
PSCs to market the oil and gas that they have discovered;
- threatens other companies for exercising their legal right to explore for oil and gas;
- appears to incite violence in the disputed territories;
- accuses the KRG of oil "smuggling" and "trafficking".
addition, he reveals details of an illegal and unconstitutional plan to
allegedly allow BP to enhance the recovery of some of the depleted
fields in Kirkuk (a disputed territory under Article 140) without
consulting and obtaining approval of the other parties to the dispute.
COOPERATION NOT CONFRONTATION
citizens are simply tired of this sort of language of threat and
intimidation, which in the cynical pursuit of narrow political agendas
serves only to create division and strife.
The minister does
not even speak for the whole federal government. Such remarks reflect a
lack of respect for the Constitution of Iraq and also for the people of
Kurdistan. They represent a degree of panic and desperation. It would
appear the overriding philosophy is that if your own policies have
failed, lash out and blame others.
Good governance and the
delivery of essential services are what should matter to the state's
senior officials, not the accumulation of power for powers' sake.
of Iraq know all too well the dangers of allowing the country's
abundant oil and gas resources, and its revenues, to fall under the
control of a handful of misguided people in Baghdad.
country will only thrive on a diet of cooperation and coordination, not
on confrontation. That is what the basic law of the land, the
terms of oil and gas management, the KRG firmly believes in, and abides
by, the letter and spirit of Iraq's permanent, federal Constitution,
which was ratified by the majority of Iraqi people in a nationwide
referendum in 2005.
The federal Constitution gives primacy
to regional law except in areas listed under the exclusive powers of the
federal authorities. Oil and gas are not listed under the exclusive
powers of the federal government.
All oil contracts in the
Region fall within the KRG oil and gas law, debated and passed by the
Kurdistan parliament in 2007 and fully in line with the relevant
provisions of the permanent Constitution.
not only outlines the current and future roles for federal and regional
powers in the management of Iraq's oil and gas, it endorses past
authorities as well.
There were oil and gas contracts with
the KRG entered into before the coming into force of the Constitution
and providing for future exploration, appraisal, and potentially,
Under Article 141, all such contracts entered into by Kurdistan since 1992 are considered valid in accordance with their terms.
the Constitution, all non-producing fields (at the time of its writing)
fall under the sole power of the regions and governorates and therefore
contracts were signed between the KRG and the IOCs.
the federal government nor the federal oil minister is a party to these
contracts, so the Minister has no jurisdiction to take any legal action
against PSC holders.
The Production Sharing Contracts in
the Kurdistan Region have been a great success for Iraq. They have meant
that an estimated 45 billion barrels of oil and 3-6 tcm of gas can be
added to Iraq's total reserve figures.
alleged agreement with BP on a plan to reverse the decline of oilfields
of Kirkuk is another unconstitutional and illegal move announced by the
minister. According to Article 112 of the Constitution:
The federal government, with the producing governorates and regional governments,
shall undertake the management of oil and gas extracted from present
fields, provided that it distributes its revenues in a fair manner… and
this shall be regulated by a law.
The term "present
fields" refers to fields already under production at the date of the
Constitution (October 2005). Kirkuk is one such field.
management of the Kirkuk field therefore must be undertaken by the
federal authorities, the governorate, and because it is part of the
process outlined under Article 140, the KRG.
of this has happened, the federal oil minister cannot act unilaterally,
and no wise company would make itself a party to such a dispute.
The federal oil minister makes threatening noises about violence in the disputed territories.