By Adam Horowitz on December 14, 2009
Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni canceled a visit to Britain this weekend over fears pro-Palestinian lawyers would seek to have her arrested.
Ms Livni had been due to speak at Sunday’s JNF Vision 2010 conference in Hendon, north-west London. She had also been expected to meet Prime Minister Gordon Brown for private talks.
But she pulled out of the trip for fear of lawyers obtaining an arrest warrant.
International law experts from the Israeli Foreign and Justice ministries have also advised Israeli officials to avoid Spain, Belgium and Norway, out of fear of similar “universal jurisdiction” arrest warrants for war crimes.
Haaretz reports that an arrest warrant for Livni was in fact issued for her role in last winter’s Israeli attack on Gaza. Although Livni’s office has said she canceled her appearance due to “a scheduling conflict,” they also said that “the opposition leader was proud of all the decisions she made as foreign minister during the Gaza war.”
Seth Freedman | guardian.co.uk
14 December 2009
Within minutes of our arrival in Tuwani, in the south Hebron hills of the West Bank, an army Jeep rolled into the village and shattered the mid-morning tranquillity. “We’re turning this place into a closed military zone,” announced the stern-faced commander to anyone within earshot. Brandishing his rifle in one hand and a military document in the other, he proceeded to explain that “I decide who can be here and who can’t, and anyone who isn’t a resident has to leave immediately”.
That meant us – me, my friend and our three guides from the Villages Group – as well as the other activists who maintain a permanent presence in Tuwani assisting the locals in their struggle to survive. The timing of the closure was no accident: earlier in the morning NGO workers and locals had taken part in a solidarity march to highlight the hardships suffered by the village children who run the gauntlet of the neighbouring settlement every time they walk to and from their school.
Anything the activists could do the soldiers could do better, it seemed. “The IDF [Israel Defence Forces] don’t like us coming to support the residents of Tuwani,” said one volunteer, “so they make it their mission to make everyone’s lives uncomfortable as a result.”
The shutdown of the village and the surrounding farmland was only the latest in a long line of attempts by the Israeli authorities to break the will of the Palestinians living in the area. As we drove out of Tuwani, we were shown the stump of an electricity pylon sawn down by the army after attempts by villagers to connect themselves to the national grid. Elsewhere, dirt mounds and locked gates stopped locals driving to the nearby city of Ya’ta, thus preventing them taking their produce to sell at market, and severely impairing their economic prospects.
Thanks to the army’s exclusion orders, we were forced to walk a treacherous and convoluted route through the rocky scrubland to visit communities living in even deeper seclusion beyond Tuwani. In Tu’ba, the cave-dwelling residents of the village are under no illusion about what the future holds for them, despite all the hype surrounding the much-vaunted settlement freeze.
“The freeze will have no effect round here,” the father of the household told us bitterly. Our guide expanded on the theme, telling us that the “real freeze is on Palestinian construction: 95% of Palestinian applications for building permits in Area C are denied by the civil administration, and for communities in this area they are not allowed to build above ground whatsoever”.
Those people living in caves are, it seems, tolerated by the authorities while they remain underground, but as soon as they put their heads above the surface and attempt to build rudimentary shacks and outhouses, demolition orders are served and the army are quick to enforce the letter of the law with gusto.
Meanwhile, in the neighbouring settlements of Carmel and Ma’on, building work was going on in earnest, and defiant banners on bus stops and fence posts declared the settlers’ intention to “smash the freeze”, and denounced the incumbent government as traitors to the Zionist cause. While government inspectors have been attacked during their attempts to bring settlement construction to a halt, the full force of the settlers’ wrath has – as ever – been meted out against the Palestinians.
The sickening desecration of a mosque on Friday in the village of Yasuf, near Nablus, appears to be the opening salvo in the settlers’ latest battle to force the government to back down over the building freeze, and those we met in the south Hebron hills were wary of similar reprisal attacks being carried out against their communities. “Our children are still attacked on a regular basis,” one local told us, “as well as our shepherds and farmers. Even if we call the police, we know justice will never be done, and the situation is only getting worse now that the settlers are furious about Netanyahu’s decision.”
Ehud Krinis, one of the Villages Group activists, believes that the freeze is “just an act” on the part of the government; having worked in the area for almost eight years and seen the settlers’ above-the-law behaviour first hand, he maintains “there is no effective force that can stop the settlers building more. In fact, as we can see in Susiya and elsewhere, the settlers simply see the freeze as a challenge to construct [at an even faster rate], which is what will happen over the next 10 months.”
As we sat with the head of the Bedouin clan living in Um al-Kheir – a collection of tumble-down tents and shacks literally touching the perimeter fence of the Carmel settlement – the mood of resignation engulfing the encampment’s residents was suffocating. We were shown aerial photos of Um al-Kheir’s gradual demise over the past 30 years, a situation attributable to the encroachment of the settlers and the military on to their ancestral land. It was clear that for those forced to endure the humiliation and hardship on a daily basis, the politicians’ upbeat talk was at best cheap, and at worst a flagrant denial of the facts.
For those Palestinians living under military rule, coupled with indiscriminate and incessant settler attacks against them, their children and their flocks, there is no end in sight to the suffering. While the world might have been convinced that the worm is about to turn in the Israeli political arena, a quick glance at the fevered construction still taking place in the settlements, the oppressive military activity against the Palestinian villagers and the overarching penury in which the Palestinians are forced to subsist should give onlookers food for thought about the true situation on the ground.
Freeze or no freeze, the future looks no brighter for the Palestinian locals today than it has during any of the bitter years and decades gone by.
Iyad Burnat and Jody McIntyre writing from Bilin, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 14 December 2009
|Iyad Burnat being arrested by Israeli soldiers at a demonstration in Bilin. (Haitham al-Katib)|
The following is Palestinian nonviolent resistance activist Iyad Burnat’s story as told to The Electronic Intifada contributor Jody McIntyre:
My name is Iyad Burnat. I am 37 years old, married with four children. I am the head of the Bilin Popular Committee.
I started my life in jail at 17, during the first intifada, a popular uprising amongst ordinary Palestinians. It was not the first time I participated in nonviolent resistance. I have always believed that this is the way to end the occupation. But as the intifada clearly showed, the Israeli military does not understand let alone sympathize with such methods.
One night, the Israeli army surrounded my home, and took my father from his bed to come and knock on my door. They told him that because I was a child, they just wanted to speak to me for five minutes. Some of the soldiers were dressed in civilian clothes, and they grabbed me as soon as I opened the door.
That five minutes became two years, in the worst place in the world — Naqab prison [in the Negev desert]. I spent the first 20 days in solitary confinement. I was kept in a room I could only stand up in, with terrible food and no showers, and during the night in a room I could lie down in but had a hole in the roof, at a time when it was raining and snowing. Every day the soldiers were beating me, and every night they would bang on the door so that I couldn’t sleep. The whole time, they were also asking me if I had thrown stones and what political party I belonged to, so in the end I admitted that I had, at some point, thrown stones. By the end of those 20 days, I smelled like an animal.
The jail was extremely bad. In the winter, water leaked from every corner, and in the summer it was unbearably hot. After six months inside, I got the first visit from my mother. My family left their home in Bilin at 3am, and didn’t return until late the next night, just to see me for 30 minutes. We couldn’t even shake hands because of the walls which separated us. She told me that my grandmother had died.
After two years in the Naqab prison, I was released, and given the new “green” ID, handed out after the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA). At the time, people with green IDs were not allowed to travel and were essentially under house arrest. Even now, Palestinians with green IDs are forbidden from traveling to Jerusalem, our capital.
In 2005, we began our nonviolent demonstrations in Bilin against Israel’s wall in the occupied West Bank and the illegal settlements that have been built on our land. We practice nonviolent methods as a way of resisting, such as tying ourselves to our olive trees when they were due to be bulldozed and uprooted by the Israeli military. For the last five years, we have succeeded in sending our message to the whole world, to tell the people that Israel’s wall is not for security, but it is an apartheid wall built only to steal our land for the purpose of expanding illegal Israeli settlements.
On 4 September 2007, we had a major breakthrough. The Israeli high court made a decision ordering that the army remove the wall from the land of Bilin. Despite this, the Israeli military refused to heed the decision of the court, and instead resorted to violence in an attempt to crush our peaceful struggle. During our nonviolent demonstrations, they beat us with batons, fill the air with tear gas and sewage water, throw sound grenades, and shoot us with a range of projectiles, from lethal high-velocity tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets, to live ammunition. Over 1,000 people have been injured, more than 200 arrested, and one close friend of mine, Bassem Abu Rahme, has been killed.
The Israeli authorities want to stop us because they are afraid of our model of nonviolent resistance, and fear that the world is waking up to the reality of this situation.
During one demonstration, we had marched to the wall as usual, and Israeli forces immediately began shooting tear gas and rubber bullets. I was caught in the crossfire and started to suffer from severe tear gas inhalation. When I stopped running to allow the doctors to treat me, I saw two soldiers approaching. They told me that I was under arrest, and that they had photos of me throwing stones.
They put me on the other side of the wall, near the military base permanently stationed on our land, and the commanding officer came over with a photo in his hand. He asked me who the man in the photo was, but I didn’t recognize him. He said that if I told him where the man lived he would release me, but I couldn’t. So he told me that in the courts he would claim that it was me, and took me away.
After spending eight days in Ofer prison, I was finally taken into court. The moment the judge saw the photo he said it wasn’t me, and that the prosecution had another 24 hours to bring additional evidence. When they couldn’t, I was ordered to pay 4,000 shekels ($1,060) bail for my release. I told my lawyer that I would not pay one penny, and after one day I was back at home with my family.
During the last five years, the Israeli military has invaded my house many times. The worst thing is that I cannot look at the faces of my children because I am afraid that if I describe their fearful expressions I will start to cry. I want my children to see that I am strong in front of the army. The soldiers don’t seem to care whether Palestinians are adults or children — they start to kick the doors, throw the children outside, and ransack their bedrooms. If my children see their father being beaten by soldiers — I cannot describe how difficult this is.
But I have taught them that every time I am arrested you must continue this struggle, even if I am killed you must continue. I have told them not to be afraid, because we are on the side of justice, and we must return to our land.
None of the kids in the village can sleep anymore, because of the night raids during the last five years. The Israeli military invade the village in the early hours, shooting sound grenades in the streets and tear gas into people’s homes. Six months ago, the most recent wave of these night raids began and the soldiers invaded almost every night. They relaunched a campaign of harassment and intimidation against the people of Bilin, in an attempt to arrest all the people who participate in our nonviolent demonstrations and subject the rest of our residents to a constant state of terror. Since this most recent wave of night raids begun, we haven’t slept a single night.
I remember after one of our demonstrations, I came home and read in the news that US President Barack Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize. I started to go crazy! The Americans are still in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Palestine is still under occupation. We haven’t seen any change, so I wondered why they didn’t give the prize to George W. Bush, when he was in power.
I am so sorry Mr. Bush — you worked so hard for eight years, killing children, starting wars around the world, and supporting the Israeli occupation of our land, and they gave the prize to another man! And you got a pair of shoes instead? That is a real injustice.
We are a simple people, and more than anything we want to see peace, but before there is peace there must be justice, and we must have our freedom. We are not against Jews or Israelis, but we are against the occupation.
One of the important elements of our struggle is the international volunteers who come to stay in the village. They are our messengers to the outside world, and it is so important for them to tell our story in their own countries, in order to counter the strength of Israeli propaganda in the mainstream media.
But words are not enough. We need people to be taking direct action, both here, and in their own countries against the embassies and governments who support this occupation.
Jody McIntyre is a journalist from the United Kingdom, currently living in the occupied West Bank village of Bilin. Jody has cerebral palsy, and travels in a wheelchair. He writes a blog for Ctrl.Alt.Shift, entitled “Life on Wheels,” which can be found at www.ctrlaltshift.co.uk. He can be reached at jody.mcintyre AT gmail DOT com.
David Rose | Mail Online | December 13, 2009
The claim was both simple and terrifying: that temperatures on planet Earth are now ‘likely the highest in at least the past 1,300 years’. As its authors from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) must have expected, it made headlines around the world.
Yet some of the scientists who helped to draft it, The Mail on Sunday can reveal, harboured uncomfortable doubts. In the words of one, David Rind from the US space agency Nasa, it ‘looks like there were years around 1000AD that could have been just as warm’.
Keith Briffa from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), which plays a key role in forming IPCC assessments, urged caution, warning that when it came to historical climate records, there was no new data, only the ‘same old evidence’ that had been around for years.
‘Let us not try to over-egg the pudding,’ he wrote in an email to an IPCC colleague in September 2006. ‘True, there have been many different techniques used to aggregate and scale data – but the efficacy of these is still far from established.’
But when the ‘warmest for 1,300 years’ claim was published in 2007 in the IPCC’s fourth report, the doubters kept silent.
It is only now that their concerns have started to emerge from the thousands of pages of ‘Warmergate’ emails leaked last month from the CRU’s computers, along with references to performing a ‘trick’ to ‘hide’ temperature decline and instructions to resist all efforts by the CRU’s critics to use the Freedom of Information Act to check the unit’s data and conclusions.
Last week, as an official inquiry by the former civil servant Sir Muir Russell began, I tried to assess Warmergate’s wider significance.
The CRU’s supporters insisted it was limited. ‘In the long term, it will make very little difference to the scientific consensus, and to the way politicians respond to it,’ Professor Trevor Davies, the university’s Pro-Vice Chancellor and a former CRU director, told me. ‘I am certain that the science is rock solid.’
He admitted that his CRU colleagues had sometimes used ‘injudicious phrases’, but that was because they kept on being ‘diverted’ from their work by those who wished to scrutinise it. ‘It’s understandable that sometimes people get frustrated,’ he said.
The only lesson the affair had for him was that ‘we have got to get better in terms of explanation. Some scientists still find it quite it difficult to communicate with the public.’
Others, however, were less optimistic. Roger Pielke, Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado, could in no sense be described as a climate change sceptic, let alone a ‘denier’.
‘Human-caused climate change is real, and I’m a strong advocate for action,’ he said. ‘But I’m also a strong advocate for integrity in science.’
Pielke’s verdict on the scandal is damning.
‘These emails open up the possibility that big scientific questions we’ve regarded as settled may need another look. They reveal that some of these scientists saw themselves not as neutral investigators but as warriors engaged in battle with the so-called sceptics.
‘They have lost a lot of credibility and as far as their being leading spokespeople on this issue of huge public importance, there is no going back.’
Climate science is complicated, and often the only way to make sense of raw data is through sophisticated statistical computer programs. The consequence is that most lay individuals – politicians and members of the public alike – have little choice but to take the assurances of scientists such as Davies on trust.
He and other ‘global warmists’ often insist that when it comes to the IPCC’s main conclusions – that the Earth is in a period of potentially catastrophic warming and that the main culprit is man-made greenhouse gas emission – no serious scientist dissents from the conventional view.
Hence, perhaps, Gordon Brown’s recent comment that those who disagree are ‘behind-the-times, antiscience, flat-Earth climate sceptics’.
In fact, there is a large body of highly-respected academic experts who fiercely contest this thesis: people such as Richard Lindzen, Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a disillusioned former IPCC member, and Dr Tom Segalstad, head of geology at Oslo University, who has stated that ‘most leading geologists throughout the world know that the IPCC’s view of Earth processes are implausible if not impossible’.
These dissenters focus their criticisms on the IPCC’s analysis of the way the atmosphere works and the models it uses to predict the future.
However, Warmergate strikes at something more fundamental – the science that justifies the basic assumption that the present warming really is unprecedented, at least in the past few thousand years.
Take the now-notorious email that the CRU’s currently suspended director, Dr Phil Jones, sent to his IPCC colleagues on November 16, 1999, when he wrote he had ‘just completed Mike’s Nature trick’ and had so managed to ‘hide the decline’.
The CRU’s supporters have protested bitterly about the attention paid to this message. In the course of an extraordinary BBC interview in which he called an American critic an ‘****hole’ live on air, Jones’s colleague Professor Andrew Watson insisted that the fuss was completely unjustified, because all Jones had been talking about was ‘tweaking a diagram’.
Davies told me that the email had been ‘taken out of context’ adding: ‘One definition of the word “trick” is “the best way of doing something”. What Phil did was standard practice and the facts are out there in the peer-reviewed literature.’
However, the full context of that ‘trick’ email, as shown by a new and until now unreported analysis by the Canadian climate statistician Steve McIntyre, is extremely troubling. Derived from close examination of some of the thousands of other leaked emails, he says it suggests the ‘trick’ undermines not only the CRU but the IPCC.
There is a widespread misconception that the ‘decline’ Jones was referring to is the fall in global temperatures from their peak in 1998, which probably was the hottest year for a long time. In fact, its subject was more technical – and much more significant.
It is true that, in Watson’s phrase, in the autumn of 1999 Jones and his colleagues were trying to ‘tweak’ a diagram. But it wasn’t just any old diagram.
It was the chart displayed on the first page of the ‘Summary for Policymakers’ of the 2001 IPCC report – the famous ‘hockey stick’ graph that has been endlessly reproduced in everything from newspapers to primary-school textbooks ever since, showing centuries of level or declining temperatures until a dizzying, almost vertical rise in the late 20th Century.
There could be no simpler or more dramatic representation of global warming, and if the origin of worldwide concern over climate change could be traced to a single image, it would be the hockey stick. Drawing a diagram such as this is far from straightforward.
Gabriel Fahrenheit did not invent the mercury thermometer until 1724, so scientists who want to reconstruct earlier climate history have to use ‘proxy data’ – measurements derived from records such as ice cores, tree-rings and growing season dates.
However, different proxies give very different results.
For example, some suggest that the ‘medieval warm period’, the 350-year era that started around 1000, when red wine grapes flourished in southern England and the Vikings tilled now-frozen farms in Greenland, was considerably warmer than even 1998.
Of course, this is inconvenient to climate change believers because there were no cars or factories pumping out greenhouse gases in 1000AD – yet the Earth still warmed.
Some tree-ring data eliminates the medieval warmth altogether, while others reflect it. In September 1999, Jones’s IPCC colleague Michael Mann of Penn State University in America – who is now also the subject of an official investigation –was working with Jones on the hockey stick. As they debated which data to use, they discussed a long tree-ring analysis carried out by Keith Briffa.
Briffa knew exactly why they wanted it, writing in an email on September 22: ‘I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards “apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more”.’ But his conscience was troubled. ‘In reality the situation is not quite so simple – I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1,000 years ago.’
Another British scientist – Chris Folland of the Met Office’s Hadley Centre – wrote the same day that using Briffa’s data might be awkward, because it suggested the past was too warm. This, he lamented, ‘dilutes the message rather significantly’.
Over the next few days, Briffa, Jones, Folland and Mann emailed each other furiously. Mann was fearful that if Briffa’s trees made the IPCC diagram, ‘the sceptics [would] have a field day casting doubt on our ability to understand the factors that influence these estimates and, thus, can undermine faith [in them] – I don’t think that doubt is scientifically justified, and I’d hate to be the one to have to give it fodder!’
Finally, Briffa changed the way he computed his data and submitted a revised version. This brought his work into line for earlier centuries, and ‘cooled’ them significantly. But alas, it created another, potentially even more serious, problem.
According to his tree rings, the period since 1960 had not seen a steep rise in temperature, as actual temperature readings showed – but a large and steady decline, so calling into question the accuracy of the earlier data derived from tree rings.
This is the context in which, seven weeks later, Jones presented his ‘trick’ – as simple as it was deceptive.
All he had to do was cut off Briffa’s inconvenient data at the point where the decline started, in 1961, and replace it with actual temperature readings, which showed an increase. On the hockey stick graph, his line is abruptly terminated – but the end of the line is obscured by the other lines.
Any scientist ought to know that you just can’t mix and match proxy and actual data,’ said Philip Stott, emeritus professor of biogeography at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. ‘They’re apples and oranges. Yet that’s exactly what he did.’
Since Warmergate-broke, some of the CRU’s supporters have claimed that Jones and his colleagues made a ‘full disclosure’ of what they did to Briffa’s data in order to produce the hockey stick.
But as McIntyre points out, ‘contrary to claims by various climate scientists, the IPCC Third Assessment Report did not disclose the deletion of the post-1960 values’. On the final diagram, the cut off was simply concealed by the other lines.
By 2007, when the IPCC produced its fourth report, McIntyre had become aware of the manipulation of the Briffa data and Briffa himself, as shown at the start of this article, continued to have serious qualms. McIntyre by now was an IPCC ‘reviewer’ and he urged the IPCC not to delete the post-1961 data in its 2007 graph. ‘They refused,’ he said, ‘stating this would be “inappropriate”.’
Yet even this, Pielke told me, may not ultimately be the biggest consequence of Warmergate.
Some of the most controversial leaked emails concern attempts by Jones and his colleagues to avoid disclosure of the CRU’s temperature database – its vast library of readings from more than 1,000 weather stations around the world, the ultimate resource that records how temperatures have changed.
In one email from 2005, Jones warned Mann not to leave such data lying around on searchable websites, because ‘you never know who is trawling them’.
Critics such as McIntyre had been ‘after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone’.
Yesterday Davies said that, contrary to some reports, none of this data has in fact been deleted. But in the wake of the scandal, its reliability too is up for grabs.
The problem is that, just like tree rings or ice cores, readings from thermometers or electronic ‘thermistors’ are open to interpretation.
The sites of weather stations that were once open countryside become built up areas, so trapping heat, and the type of equipment used changes over time. The result is what climate scientists call ‘inhomogeneities’ – anomalies between readings that need to be ‘adjusted’.
But can we trust the way such ‘adjustments’ are made?
Last week, an article posted on a popular climate sceptic website analysed the data from the past 130 years in Darwin, Australia.
This suggested that average temperatures had risen there by about two degrees Celsius. However, the raw data had been ‘adjusted’ in a series of abrupt upward steps by exactly the same amount: without the adjustment, the Darwin temperature record would have stayed level.
In 2007, McIntyre examined records across America. He found that between 1999 and 2007, the US equivalent of the Met Office had changed the way it adjusted old data.
The result was to make the Thirties seem cooler, and the years since 1990 much warmer. Previously, the warmest year since records began in America had been 1934.
Now, in line with CRU and IPCC orthodoxy, it was 1998.
At the CRU, said Davies, some stations’ readings were adjusted by unit and in such cases, raw and adjusted data could be compared. But in about 90 per cent of cases, the adjustment was carried out in the countries that collected the data, and the CRU would not know exactly how this had been done.
Davies said: ‘All I can say is that the process is careful and considered. To get the details, the best way would be to go the various national meteorological services.’
The consequences of that, Stott said, may be explosive. ‘If you take Darwin, the gap between the two just looks too big. If that applies elsewhere, it’s going to get really interesting. It’s no longer going to be good enough for the Met Office and CRU to put the data out there.
‘To know we can trust it, we’ve got to know what adjustments have been made, and why.’
Last week, at the Copenhagen climate summit, the Met Office said that the Nineties have been the warmest decade in history. Depending on how the data has been adjusted, Stott said, that statement may not be true.
Pielke agreed. ‘After Climategate, the surface temperature record is being called into question.’ To experts such as McIntyre and Pielke, perhaps the most baffling thing has been the near-unanimity over global warming in the world’s mainstream media – a unanimity much greater than that found among scientists.
In part, this is the result of strongarm tactics.
For example, last year the BBC environment reporter Roger Harrabin made substantial changes to an article on the corporation website that asked why global warming seemed to have stalled since 1998 – caving in to direct pressure from a climate change activist, Jo Abbess.
‘Personally, I think it is highly irresponsible to play into the hands of the sceptics who continually promote the idea that “global warming finished in 1998″ when that is so patently not true,’ she told him in an email.
After a brief exchange, he complied and sent a final note: ‘Have a look in ten minutes and tell me you are happier. We have changed headline and more.’
Afterwards, Abbess boasted on her website: ‘Climate Changers, Remember to challenge any piece of media that seems like it’s been subject to spin or scepticism. Here’s my go for today. The BBC actually changed an article I requested a correction for.’
Last week, Michael Schlesinger, Professor of Atmospheric Studies at the University of Illinois, sent a still cruder threat to Andrew Revkin of the New York Times, accusing him of ‘gutter reportage’, and warning: ‘The vibe that I am getting from here, there and everywhere is that your reportage is very worrisome to most climate scientists … I sense that you are about to experience the “Big Cutoff” from those of us who believe we can no longer trust you, me included.’
But in the wake of Warmergate, such threats – and the readiness to bow to them – may become rarer.
‘A year ago, if a reporter called me, all I got was questions about why I’m trying to deny climate change and am threatening the future of the planet,’ said Professor Ross McKitrick of Guelph University near Toronto, a long-time collaborator with McIntyre.
‘Now, I’m getting questions about how they did the hockey stick and the problems with the data. Maybe the emails have started to open people’s eyes.’
Russian secret service agents admitted yesterday that the hacked ‘Warmergate’ emails were uploaded on a Siberian internet server, but strenuously denied a clandestine state-sponsored operation to wreck the Copenhagen summit.
The FSB – formerly the KGB – confirmed that thousands of messages to and from scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit were distributed to the world from the city of Tomsk, as revealed by The Mail on Sunday last week.
Now, it has emerged that IT experts specialising in hacking techniques were brought in by the Russian authorities following this newspaper’s exposure of the Tomsk link. They have gathered evidence about how and where the operation was carried out, although they are not prepared to say at this stage who they think was responsible.
A Russian intelligence source claimed the FSB had new information which could cast light on who was behind the elaborate operation.
‘We are not prepared to release details, but we might if the false claims about the FSB’s involvement do not stop,’ he said. ‘The emails were uploaded to the Tomsk server but we are sure this was done from outside Russia.’
The Kremlin’s top climate change official, Alexander Bedritsky, denied the Russian government was involved in breaking into the CRU’s computer system.
‘You can post information on a computer from any other country. It is nonsense to blame Russia,’ he said.
US fighter jets have attacked Yemen’s Sa’ada Province, Houthi fighters say.
Yemen’s Houthi fighters say the US fighter jets have launched 28 attacks on the northwestern province of Sa’ada.
The US has used modern fighter jets and bombers in its offensive against the Yemen fighters, Houthis said in a statement.
According to the statement, the US fighter jets have launched overnight attacks on the Yemeni fighters, Arabic Almenpar website reported.
The development comes as The Daily Telegraph on Sunday reported that the US has sent its special forces to Yemen to train its army.
The reports of the US military intervention in Yemen come as Saudi Arabia is also lending full support to the Yemeni government’s crackdown on Yemen’s Houthi minority.
Saudi Arabia has launched cross-border ground attacks against Yemeni fighters and its fighter jets have reportedly dropped phosphorus bombs on Yemen’s northern areas.
International aid agencies and some UN bodies including United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have voiced concern over the dire condition of the Yemeni civilians who have become the main victims of the conflict in the country.
The United Nations which according to its charter is set up “to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace” has failed to adopt any concrete measures to help end the bloody war.
Neil Clark: A trial would be warmly welcomed by millions – so what happens next?
By Neil Clark – December 14, 2009
Tony Blair’s extraordinary admission on Sunday to the BBC’s Fern Britton – that he would have gone to war to topple Saddam Hussein regardless of the issue of Iraq’s alleged WMDs – is sure to give fresh impetus to moves to prosecute our former prime minister for war crimes.
The case against Blair, strong enough before this latest comment, now appears rock solid. Going to war to change another country’s regime is prohibited by international law, while the Nuremburg judgment of 1946 laid down that “to initiate a war of aggression”, as Blair and Bush clearly did against Iraq, “is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”.
Blair’s admission, that he “would still have thought it right to remove him [Saddam]” regardless of the WMD issue, is also an acknowledgement that he lied to the House of Commons on February 25, 2003, when he told MPs: “I detest his [Saddam’s] regime. But even now he [Saddam] can save it by complying with the UN’s demand. Even now, we are prepared to go the extra step to achieve disarmament peacefully. I do not want war… But disarmament peacefully can only happen with Saddam’s active co-operation.”
The view that Blair is a war criminal is now mainstream: when comedian Sandi Toksvig, host of Radio Four’s News Quiz, called him one on air, the BBC, according to the Mail on Sunday, did not receive a single complaint.
But while it is easy to label Blair a war criminal, what are the chances of him actually standing trial – and how could it be achieved? Various initiatives have already been launched.
The Blair War Crimes Foundation, set up by retired orthopaedic surgeon David Halpin, has organised an online petition, addressed to the President of the UN General Assembly and the UK Attorney General, which lists 14 specific complaints relating to the Iraq war, including “deceit and conspiracy for war, and providing false news to incite passions for war” and violations of the Geneva Conventions by the occupying powers.
The campaigning journalist George Monbiot, who attempted a citizen’s arrest of the former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, for his role in the Iraq war, said at the Hay Literary festival in 2008 that he would put up the first £100 of a bounty payable to the first person to attempt a non-violent citizen’s arrest of Blair.
Monbiot has also called for the setting up of national arrest committees in countries which, unlike Britain, have incorporated the ‘Crime.